On-Premise Trends: The When, What, Why, and How


May 23, 2024

In April 2024, CGA by NIQ released a report diving into some fascinating findings in on-premise trends.

When we are drinking continues to evolve. Most notably, Sunday-day drinking is up 19% over last year (long live the boozy brunches!). In fact, consumers are hitting bars earlier on any given day of the week. The hours between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. increased over last year, while the period from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. experienced a slight reduction. Specifically, cocktails proved to be most lucrative during early evenings on-premise.

There were also intriguing insights into what we drink at bars and restaurants. Over half of consumers indicated they would pay more for a cocktail with branded ingredients. Additionally, 43% of younger drinkers (aged 21-34) prefer selecting a unique signature cocktail almost every visit rather than opting for a standard call. This is great news for craft and premium brands.

And then there's the question of why we choose certain drinks. An overwhelming majority (73%) of on-premise consumers ask bar staff for recommendations. Almost 9 out of 10 (89%) cocktail drinkers browse the menu before making their selections. This emphasizes the importance of recommendations.

On-premise is making a big comeback. Staffing levels are now back to pre-pandemic levels, and although consumers are drinking less overall, they are associating spirits consumption with experience and occasion. Both venues need to work together. Off-premise holds significant influence due to volume, but on-premise wields substantial power in trial, awareness, and branding. Most successful brands need to excel in both realms.

The how: how we can help

At Thoroughbred, we take a holistic approach to the on-premise, offering multiple programs tailored to the needs of emerging and craft spirits brands.

Sales Recruiting: The first step is getting feet on the street. A good sales representative can strategically place your brand in the right accounts for success. Our thorough recruiting process provides you with vetted, qualified candidates in your selected markets, taking the legwork off your plate while keeping you informed and involved in every step of the process until you find a great hire.

Trade Brand Ambassadors: This bespoke program is tailored to your brand's needs, focusing on finding the right on-premise representation in your key markets. Representatives are typically part-time bartenders who concentrate on the most impactful aspects of on-premise support – education. They train bar and server staff to ensure that a bartender becomes passionate and recommendations for your brand. They collaborate with buyers to develop cocktail menus and features highlighting the spirit and suit the account. They also create programming to bring your brand to life at bars and restaurants in a way that resonates with each account.

Packaging and Design: Our design experts, with decades of industry experience, provide guidance on selecting bottles, labels, and packaging with bars and restaurants in mind. Do the colors stand out on the back bar (in a good way)? Is it easy to differentiate between a 2-year-aged product and a 10-year-aged product in dim mood lighting? Is the bottle easy to pour and inventory? These are just a few considerations throughout our design process.

On-premise Toolkit: As a brand grows, it becomes increasingly challenging to maintain a consistent look and feel to ensure that you are marketed as intended. Our design team can create templates for various field needs, such as menu card inserts, table tents, social media assets, and event announcements, with locked colors and fonts, accessible and editable to whomever you wish.

Activation Strategy Plans: Our consultants can collaborate with you to bring your brand to life at bars and restaurants, creating meaningful experiences with proven results for various brand budgets. You provide the product and the basic branding, and we can develop a playbook that is easy to execute and memorable, ensuring that all the components of your marketing strategy work together for maximum impact.

Get in touch, let's talk about your objectives and see if a tailored program could help you.

Email us at [email protected]

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