Dry January could last all year for some as over half (52%) of pub goers would consider drinking a ‘low or no’ version of their typical alcoholic tipple, according to The PUB Trends Report 2020, in partnership with Arla Pro.
Of over 1,500 pub customers polled for the research, a quarter said they were drinking less alcohol than they were 12 months ago, the report, available exclusively to visitors attending PUB20, the only dedicated show for the UK Pub industry, discovered. This is despite the fact that pub visits are on the rise with 60% of respondents visiting a pub at least once a week, and more than one in ten respondents (12%) visiting a pub more than four times a week.
The emergence of the premium soft drink category, in demand for a third (31%) of those polled, reflects consumer desire for variety as they continue to drink out but cut back on alcohol content. With as many as 14% saying they were buying more low and no drinks and almost a quarter of respondents (23%) claiming alcoholic content was an important consideration when deciding what to drink at the bar, beating brand recognition that came in at 19%, this premium soft drink category presents a real growth opportunity for the trade.
On the food front, 36% of customers wanted healthy dishes made with fewer calories, additives and less processing. The results also revealed a growing demand for broader menu choices:
- 24% favoured options for diners struggling with allergens or food intolerances
- 21% desired vegetarian dishes
- 12% believed there should be vegan options
Outside of these trends the report also studied the drinks most popular with punters in 2020 and found:
- Gin and tonic was named the most popular spirit and mixer for the second year on the trot for 80% respondents, but this figure fell from 91% the previous year suggesting that thirst for the tipple may have peaked.
- ‘Beer or ale’ was crowned the beverage of choice by 45% of respondents – up 20% from last year’s survey, but the ‘spirit and mixer’ category fell out of favour. Only 26% voted for it, down from 53% the year before. Wine was up at 17%, as was cider slightly to five per cent.
- Craft cider topped the list of most enjoyable ciders with 41% of the vote replacing last year’s fruit cider winner. ‘Mainstream cider’ held firm at 32% but fruit cider nose-dived to 14%. Last year all three were evenly matched.
- Prosecco (69%) proved three times as popular as Champagne (23%), while Cava – which took home 20% of the fizz vote last year – received no love at all with 0%
Of course, we all know a pub visit is about more than the food and drink on offer, what you do while you’re there matters too. The report found that despite a ‘traditional country pub’ still being the favourite kind of watering hole to visit, the kind of entertainment people like to find when they get there was more varied.
Entertainment was popular with nearly all respondents, with 9 in 10 approving of organised events taking place in pubs. Seasonal events like St Patrick’s Day celebrations still pull in the crowds with 20% of respondents attending these events, charity and community events did well at 17% and craft events like sewing and knitting pulled in a surprising 11% of the vote.
For the first time this year’s report asked punters what they looked for in a publican too, with ‘friendly’ topping the bill for almost a third of respondents (32%). This was followed by a desire for good drinks knowledge for a fifth of those questioned (20%). Almost one in ten (7%) were looking for a good listener and five percent wanted a publican who could keep secrets.
Jenna Hodgson-Silke, marketing manager of report sponsors, Arla Pro, commented: “We know there is a demand for food and drink to meet a wide range of tastes and dietary requirements and this report really highlights the fact that these trends are here to stay and to grow. We’re looking forward to working with our industry partners to help them make the most of these new trends.”
The PUB Trends Report 2020, in partnership with Arla Pro, is available free to all attendees at PUB20, 4th-5th February at Olympia London. To keep up-to-date with the latest news and information, visit thepubshow.co.uk, or follow @PubShowUK on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.