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What do pub-goers want to see on the drinks menus after lockdown?
As lockdown restrictions are starting to lift, our minds are beginning to wonder what life might look like when the world opens up again. One thing everyone is waiting for is the return of the dining out industry, but will our customers’ expectations be different when all is back to some form of normality?
Read on to discover my predictions for what pub-goers will want to see on the drinks menu when lockdown is lifted.
Customers are missing the experience
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING. Our customers want experiences, they want moments in time they’ll remember forever. They want something that’s brand new, something that’s tailored to them and they can’t get anywhere else.
Whilst all of this was true before lockdown, it’s going to be even more true after it. In my recent article, Why experience in hospitality will be more important in the post-COVID world, I discuss how our customers have missed out on experiences and will be craving them. The feeling of being surrounded by bar chatter, the feeling of having a menu of options to choose from, being waited on.
These experiences are what makes dining out so special, and before where they may have been taken for granted, we are likely to see customers appreciate them so much more. However, whilst customers have missed us, they’ve also learnt to live without us.
They’ve ordered their favourite drinks straight to their home, they’ve learnt how to whip up their favourite meals. They’ve been Zoom calling each other for Friday drinks and a whole new type of ‘social’ has emerged. Not only do we need to give them what they’ve been missing when our doors reopen, but we need to do it better than we ever have before to show them some experiences simply cannot be recreated at home.
Despite the uncertainty, it is time to strengthen our resolve and focus. Businesses will be remembered for how they respond with creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity and this is what consumers will be looking for at the other end of this lockdown.
When it comes to buzz words, CBD is certainly one of the biggest so far this decade. The CBD market is massive, and it only continues to grow. There are myriad reasons to take CBD, but many people are and as we all know, having the hottest items on our menus is sure to excite our customers.
The popularity of CBD drinks has been growing especially quickly, as it goes back to my first point, experience. A CBD drink is a unique experience and is not only great for those more accustomed to CBD but great for first-timers as well. I think we will see restaurants and bars offering CBD drinks and even food to draw more of a crowd because of their on-trend offerings.
Despite off-licence alcohol sales increasing by a third during lockdown, catering to alcohol-free consumers will continue to be important when doors reopen. Currently, people are able to make their own drinks in their own homes, a completely unique and personalised experience.
With limited non-alcoholic options on bar menus, customers will quickly realise they have better offerings in their own homes, and act accordingly. It’s well past the time of just having a few soft drinks and a limited mocktail menu, we need well-thought-out and constructed menus for our non-drinkers too.
By bringing in ranges of bespoke adult soft drinks, bar owners are able to offer the customer something unique to their taste, which encompasses that desire for experience whilst also being alcohol-free. Furthermore, when bars can offer a menu plentiful with non-alcoholic options, suddenly bars become the preference over home drinking once more.
One area lockdown hasn’t been kind on for many is health and fitness. With limited exercise allowed, the inability to go to the shop every day for fresh produce and the chances of us feeling as though we need comfort foods more than ever, many have slipped out of their routines and found themselves falling into a cycle of unhealthy behaviour.
For a lot of people, the lockdown being lifted will be a chance to get back on the health train and regain the routine they’ve missed. With gyms reopening, fresh fruit and veg being sold in markets and more, people will be looking to be healthy and undo any lockdown weight gain they can.
It’s important that we take this into consideration when we reopen. Although people have missed the experience of dining out, for many frozen pizzas and takeaways have been the sum of their comfort food and options that are not only exciting but also health-conscious have been harder to come by.
How are you rewarding your staff?
A hard light has been shone on our frontline workers during this pandemic. On our doctors, our teachers, our cleaners and our binmen. It’s being shone on those who before we may have taken for granted, and I believe, when the world reopens, we will see our customers more appreciative of staff at every level, from the maitre d' to the pot-wash.
Equally, staff will remember how they were treated during this time. They’ll remember bosses who were reluctant to close due to money and bosses who put their staff’s safety above everything else. They’ll ask what we did during this time in job interviews, and they may well even decide to move on because of it.
More than ever before, after this pandemic, we need to be rewarding our staff. I think the biggest change we are going to see across the world after this, aside from appreciation of healthcare, is how we work. We’ll see more office workers working from home offices, we’ll see people being there for family becoming more important and we’ll see workers demand more from their employers. Make sure you are ready to listen.
About the author:
Kamila is a bestselling author of “Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation”, and passionate trend-spotter for the UK Eating Out market with thousands of followers on her widely popular blog kamilasitwell.co.uk.
With a decade of hands-on experience collaborating with hospitality influencers and insight experts and a background in setting strategies for leading brands, Kamila has become the industry champion for truly bespoke and guest-centric experiences.
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