With Halloween creeping up in the calendar, now is the time to ensure pubs and bars are in the perfect position to capitalise on the second biggest party night of the year after New Year’s Eve. Falling on a Thursday this year, Halloween represents a significant opportunity for operators to boost mid-week sales, as well as providing outlets with the perfect excuse to extend the occasion into the weekend after and draw in the crowds.
HEINEKEN UK has devised expert tips to help outlets lure visitors in from the cold and maximise profits over the spookiest time of the year. The advice underpins one of the key category drivers identified in its Greenpaper research: Let’s Get Together. Worth £249M incremental value to the sector over three years, it demonstrates how outlets can capitalise on existing events, creating rich experiences to drive footfall and sales throughout the year.
Here are some tips and tricks from HEINEKEN to ensure Halloween is a treat for all:
1. Plan, plan, plan
Halloween is one of the most age-targeted celebrations of the year, largely driven by millennials, with 60% of 18-34 YOs visiting the on trade during that period. As Halloween falls on a Thursday, celebrations are likely to be more muted on the day itself. To hit the nail on the head, outlets should target the weekend following Halloween itself for their show-stopper parties as it tends to perform better than the weekend before. Latest research shows that outlets experience an 8% uplift in sales when activating on the Friday following Halloween versus other Fridays in this period.
- Family-friendly pubs could capitalise on Halloween night itself by offering Halloween-themed kids’ menus, spooky party games, apple bobbing, face painting and so on.
- For weekend parties, it’s critical that you plan a compelling line-up to ensure strong footfall as Halloween consumers tend to choose where to go based on the range. In particular, keep in mind that, when choosing a venue for a spooky night out:
- 88% of Halloween consumers consider the range of cider important
- 20% of Halloween consumers will go elsewhere if the venue they were in does not serve stout
- In addition, Halloween consumers show a strong preference towards cocktails and spirits, so ranging these categories is essential to engage this audience.
- Out of the spirits, vodka and tequila reign supreme, experiencing an uplift of more than 100% versus the Average Respective Day.
- Pre-batched cocktails are quick to serve and can help reduce waiting times during busy periods. Themed cocktails can also help innovate an outlet’s offering, tapping into the experimental aspect which is central to the Halloween occasion.
2. Party perks
Halloween consumers are highly engaged with the on trade and spend 30% more than the average consumer during this period. With this in mind, it stands to reason that Halloween parties over the weekend will, on average, deliver an incremental £452 more profit than a usual Friday or Saturday night. What’s more, 65% of customers love to dress up for the occasion, with nearly half of these putting a lot of effort into their costumes. Offering prizes for the best dressed is a sure fire way to attract these customers into your venue.
- For the forgetful few (40% will leave it to the last minute to prepare a costume), a photo background with a few extra props such as Strongbow CarnEvil masks for selfies will go down well (and result in greater traction on social media too!).
- 68% of Halloween consumers have increased brand awareness through social media; highlighting competitions and other Halloween activations via your outlet’s social media accounts will ensure you reach this valuable audience.
3. Set a spooky scene – and think big!
Halloween is a playground for operators to create the rich experiences that consumers now desire. Spooky decorations and themed displays are great for getting customers into a party mood and can also make a strong impact on social media. Over the last three years, Strongbow CarnEvil has dominated this space, with Google searches now four times higher than the year of launch. The campaign encourages licensees to ditch the norm and embrace the strange, helping licensees create their own spectacular set-up, with an online asset library and themed POS support kits, including posters, staff fancy dress and drip mats.
- Swerve around the usual ghouls and ghosts and capture people’s attention with a more creative theme such as Mexico’s Day of the Dead, to open up the celebration into something more. Offering Mexican-inspired drink options can help add to the atmosphere and with 42% of Desperados drinkers aged between 18-35, the tequila-flavoured beer is a great way to appeal to younger consumers.
- Be creative! Other spooky Halloween nights could include:
- Ghost tour of ‘haunted’ pub and grounds
- Séance or clairvoyant in residence
- Murder mystery guest performers
- Horror film screening
Be careful not to alienate the growing number of people choosing to moderate their alcohol intake. The no and low category has seen substantial growth in recent years, with 50% of drinkers now limiting their alcohol consumption and 15% of consumers saying they are more likely to visit pubs if a broader range of non-alcoholic options were available. In particular, this upward trend has been led by millennials, with almost a third (29%) of 18-24 YOs now teetotal.
- Ensure a range of no and low options are available in both draught and packaged format to ensure those looking to moderate their alcohol consumption feel part of the occasion.
- HEINEKEN 0.0 is the fastest growing no and low alcohol brand, adding £6.4M value to the category in the last 12 months. The award-winning, perfectly balanced alcohol-free beer is now available on draught thanks to the counter-top beer dispense system, BLADE, and responds directly to those limiting their alcohol intake, without compromising on taste.
- Consider creating mocktail versions of themed Halloween cocktails to ensure those moderating don’t feel left out.