HEINEKEN commissions consumer sentiment research to forecast On-Trade behaviour post-lockdown and support operators in delivering a quality experience during the reopening period

Since January 2021, HEINEKEN has commissioned regular consumer sentiment research to forecast On-Trade behaviour post-lockdown and support operators in delivering a quality experience during the reopening period.

Latest research shows the majority of consumers are optimistic about the future and their confidence in visiting pubs, bars and restaurants has increased since January. With 51% of people planning to visit within the first few weeks of reopening, it’s more important than ever to provide a high-quality experience safely and remind them of all the reasons they love your venue to encourage repeat visits.

Delivering unbeatable quality experiences is one of the five pillars of the HEINEKEN Benefits Bar – your virtual local serving up the products, services and ideas you need to run a profitable pub business. HEINEKEN has shared three top tips for creating the perfect post-lockdown experience, more of which are available exclusively to its customers.

1.Focus on low-tempo food occasions

Post-lockdown, consumers feel most comfortable enjoying a cosy meal with a partner, quiet drinks with friends, or a meal with friends and family. Establishing lower-tempo events within these key occasions, such as curry nights, cheese and wine pairing or Sunday roasts, will give your customers a reason to visit – as well as increase loyalty and revenue. It’s worth considering the overall ambience on top of your food and drink; upbeat or mellow background music helps set the mood, while decorations like bunting can work well for themed occasions. To help promote your events, HEINEKEN customers can access and personalise professional point of sale and digital assets via POS Direct, as part of the HEINEKEN Benefits Bar.

With 72% of pubs having an outdoor space and consumers most excited about visiting restaurants, there’s a huge opportunity for you to serve quality food alongside drinks. Street food is becoming more popular in the UK and partnering with a local vendor is a great way of offering customers an exciting al fresco dining experience, without adding pressure on existing kitchen facilities. You could also consider hosting a cider or beer festival over the May Bank Holidays to increase footfall and boost profit potential. It’s worth expanding your menu to offer your customers something a little different and drive revenue through trade up, for example pulled pork sliders and loaded hot dogs beyond simple burgers and sausages. Whatever you decide, it’s important to deliver consistently high standards to enhance your customers’ experience, increasing dwell time, encouraging trade up and enticing them to return again and again.

  1. Prioritise quality, with premium options for those ready to treat themselves

 A fresh, cold, perfectly poured pint is something that consumers simply cannot get at home and have sorely missed! 47% of customers are willing to pay more for a better quality drink. A good cellar management routine helps produce quality pints, while boosting profitability. Line cleaning should be carried out to correct procedures every seven days (except HEINEKEN SmartDispense™ systems, where this can be extended to six- or even twelve-weekly) and cellars should be kept at a constant temperature of 11-13°C – with cooling equipment topped with water and fans and condensers free from dust and blockages. It’s important to maintain throughput of at least 1 keg per week per tap so you continue to offer a great standard of beer and cider service. Consider starting with a smaller draught range upon reopening, particularly for cask beers; we’d recommend starting with an amber ale as these hold a 67% volume share of the category.

Your staff are the gatekeepers to great experiences, so taking the time to train them and refresh their knowledge after lockdown is worth its weight in gold. From delivering the perfect serve to recommending dishes or drinks pairings, knowledgeable and friendly staff enhance your customers’ experience while boosting revenue. Hello BEER is an easily-accessible staff training app providing courses in beer and cider quality, available to all, and free via the HEINEKEN Buying Club – one of many experience-enhancing tools within the HEINEKEN Benefits Bar.

 Over a third of consumers also plan to make their On-Trade visits more special by choosing premium drinks and food options, so make sure to capitalise on their desire to trade up. Premium lagers like Birra Moretti, whose light carbonation complements almost all dishes, are a great match for food and appeal to consumers looking to treat themselves to a more premium beer. At the same time, 42% of consumers are excited to try new drinks brands, so experimenting with packaged options is a clever way to enrich your range at a relatively low-risk. Whatever the drink, it has to be better than what consumers usually have at home to remind them why they’ve come out to the On-Trade.

 3. Reassure customers of their health and safety in your venue

 Health and hygiene protocols are integral to boosting consumer confidence and creating a safe On-Trade experience post-lockdown. With over two thirds of people feeling regular anti-viral cleaning, enforced social distancing and PPE will remain very important for pubs and bars, it’s important to communicate the measures you’re taking to keep everyone safe.

From ensuring you have enough staff to sanitise tables between covers and collect empties, to accessing safety and reopening POS via HEINEKEN’s POS Direct, there are several ways you can implement safety measures and easily reassure your customers. Ordering and payment apps like Swifty provide an invaluable way to build confidence without interfering with daily operations, enabling you to focus more on your guests’ experience and value-adding activity too.

Communication will be key to re-engaging consumers post-lockdown; use your website and social media channels to promote current health and safety measures, advertise any outside space and highlight special food and drink events, all of which will help facilitate a quality On-Trade experience – ultimately driving footfall, loyalty and revenue  once restrictions allow.

For more information on the HEINEKEN Benefits Bar and growing your business, visit: https://www.heineken.co.uk/our-pubs/make-heineken-your-supplier/