More consumers are consistently ordering beverage alcohol when they go out to eat. In fact, 84% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed in Next Level Marketing's annual report (conducted in February) said they are ordering alcoholic drinks nearly every time they go out, up 5% from last year's survey. With 87% of consumers surveyed ordering the same or better quality drinks, and just 6% saying they are ordering cheaper drinks.
The number of drinks consumers are ordering per occasion on-premise has consistently stayed around 2.2 drinks the last few years, and that number is a little higher among males and millennials. While consumers may not be drinking more per occasion, the number of occasions has increased. "People are drinking more often, better quality, but in the same amount each time," said Next Level Marketing's Mike Ginley at the VIBE Conference last week.
As for where they're drinking, casual dining chains are the most visited type of bars/restaurants among those surveyed, with local independent casual dining restaurants in second place. The main drivers of determining where to go are food quality, food and drink value prices and service. Beverage programs play a key role in determining where consumers want to spend their money on a night out.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD BEVERAGE PROGRAM? The survey found that the top five key elements to a beverage program are: (1) good value prices, (2) happy hour specials, (3) great drink quality, (4) great beer selection and (5) drink specials and promotions. A bit lower on the list, you'll find great wine selection and great cocktail selection.
EXPERIMENTATION AND BRAND LOYALTY. Experimentation of new brands is "remarkably high" across beer, wine and spirits, with about 80% of consumers responding that they tried a new brand within the past 90 days, and about 60% tried a new brand in the past month, according to Mike. Though the general consensus is that consumers are less brand loyal these days, Mike suggested that many still are brand loyal based on the fact that consumers said they only consumed about 3 or 4 brands in total over the past 90 days across each category.
"There's tremendous amount of interest in trying new things, but consumers are still brand loyal for the most part," he said.
TAKEOUT BY THE NUMBERS. A common theme (and potential concern for on-premise retailers) at the VIBE conference this week was food and alcohol delivery. To get a sense of how consumers are using it, the survey found that consumers order takeout an average of 2 times per week, with 47% ordering more take out than last year. 85% of takeout orders are from casual dining chains and independent restaurants.
Looking at how beverage alcohol fits in, 61% of those surveyed said they would order drinks with their food if that option was available. There's more interest in tacking on a beer or two to their takeout order than wine or spirits. 45% of those surveyed expressed interest in beer, while just 28% said they wanted to order wine or spirits to-go.