New research from independent alcohol education charity Drinkaware has revealed that two-thirds (66%) of midlife drinkers (aged 45 to 64) have tried, or would try, lower strength alcoholic drinks; an increase of 15% in just two years. Similarly, more than half (51%) of this age group have consumed, or would try, alcohol-free drinks, which is up from 48% in 2019.
Soft drinks are the obvious alternative to alcohol, with 40% of consumers drinking soft drinks outside of the home (source: Heineken UK). However with a great range of no and low alcohol drinks now available, operators can stock up with exciting alcohol-free drinks and encourage guests to sample more premium options, such as non-alcoholic beer and mocktails.
Why not create a menu of mocktails, host a tasting evening to try different alcohol-free drinks, or explore alternatives such as non-alcoholic spirits.
You can get behind your guests who are choosing to abstain or cut down during January by promoting your pub as a Dry January venue, recommending low or no alcohol beers, and supporting their efforts whilst also encouraging them to support their local pub.
You could create a dedicated ‘Zero Zone’ to showcase your range of no and low drinks, so they are clearly visible to guests. Make sure you train your team on the different no and low options or flavours available, and consider your placement of alcohol-free drinks within the fridge so they can be easily viewed by your guests.
Special menus and chalkboards can be used to inform your guests about your range of no and low alcohol and soft drinks options, which you could also promote on your website and on social media.
Sugar consumption remains our biggest health concern and there has been a 25% increase in sales of low-calorie soft drinks over the past year (source: Heineken UK). Make sure you provide guests with suitable low-calorie and sugar-free options, either to drink on their own or as mixers and within cocktails or mocktails.
As well as Dry January some people are also taking part in Veganuary or generally trying to eat more healthily this month. A healthy menu with a focus on vegetables could be a great opportunity to attract guests and trial healthy dishes for your menus throughout the rest of the year. You could run a tasting session to create interest around your healthy menu options, which would also provide useful feedback on the preferences of your guests.
Consider your customer base and which type of promotions would be most attractive to them. You can offer discounts on meals during January, such as fixed price set menu or 2-4-1 offers, or if you are a family pub, then promotions such as ‘kids eat free’ with a paying adult could work well.
If you know you have budget-conscious guests, you could offer smaller incentives such as free bar snacks when a guest spends a minimum amount on a round of drinks.
Think of some New Year’s Resolutions which you can support by offering your pub as a venue to achieve them. Many people want to improve themselves in some way or set themselves goals like meeting new people, finding love, or starting a new activity. Your pub could be a venue for all kinds of activities, such as book clubs, film evenings, games evenings, well-being workshops, tasting events, socialising events, or speed dating evenings.
For some, the end of the month will be the end of Dry January; for others it will represent their first and much anticipated salary payment of the New Year. Whatever the reason, it’s a great excuse to host an End of January party! As many people who complete Dry January plan to cut down on alcohol throughout the rest of the year, make sure you promote your low and no-alcohol drinks so they know they’re always catered for.