COVID-19 concerns evaporate for on-premise customers

New data from CGA shows a massive 97% of Australian on-premise customers are planning to visit bars and restaurants next month, as concerns around COVID-19 continue to decrease.

CGA said concerns around COVID-19 remain in the on premise, but appear to be lessening, with only 9% of all consumers visiting the channel less because of the rise in cases, down from 23% last month.

While concerns around COVID-19 have lessened, worries around cost of living have increased, with more consumers visiting less this month due to having disposable income challenges.

Premiumisation does exist for many however, so a balanced strategy focused on both value and premium offering is likely beneficial, as seen in other markets further down this recovery path than Australia. CGA noted that mainstream brands sitting between these two positions can become exposed in these situations, so communication, in-venue brand awareness and appropriate positioning is essential.

For those facing disposable income challenges, CGA suggested promotions can work extremely well to drive footfall, increase dwell time and overall spend.

“Key for suppliers here is helping operators see the need to appeal to this group of cash-strapped consumers and to actively spend promotional funds where available,” CGA said.

At the other end of the spectrum, 58% of Australians say they are now more willing to ‘treat themselves to make up for lost time’ as they return to the channel. This mindset is leading to further signs of premiumisation, with more than a third (35%) purchasing a premium drink option in the past month.

“Clearly, these consumers represent an opportunity for premium brand, spirits and cocktails which all play well with this consumer mindset,” CGA said. “While 59% of consumers are drinking cocktails at the same frequency as they did pre-pandemic, a significant 26% of consumers are drinking cocktails in bars and restaurants more frequently now than before. 58% of On Premise consumers state that they are actually purchasing them on every or most of their visits now.”

When looking at favourite cocktail styles for Australians, classic cocktails (45%) and signature cocktails (32%) lead the pack when ordering in bars and restaurants.

“In terms of innovation, pre-batched or draft cocktails could well be the next big thing to hit Australia – two-thirds of consumers are willing to try them with speed of purchase being a main driver of choice,” CGA noted. “However, most drinkers (70%) expect pre-batched cocktails to attract a lower price point than regular cocktails, which is an important consideration for suppliers when it comes to positioning their offering.”

Scott Elliott, CGA managing director – Americas & Asia Pacific, added: “While it is clear that the channel is slowly recovering, with some way still to go, many Australian consumers are facing quite different challenges. Those with reduced disposable income need reasons to enter the trade – with events, drinks promotion and transparent pricing tactics likely to help drive footfall. For those looking to treat themselves, a clear upselling strategy by suppliers and operators which are relevant to a changed path to purchase is essential. Although operationally-efficient serves such as draft cocktails are appealing to all, the product, presentation and messaging needs to be strong to maintain quality cues and premium value-for-money perceptions in the eye of the on-premise consumer.”

CGA’s On Premise Consumer Pulse checks in with 750 Australian On Premise visitors every month to understand their recent behaviour, how they feel about the channel (including any COVID-19 restrictions) and their intentions for visits in the month ahead. Download the latest Australia Consumer Pulse Report here –

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Categories: Business