Building a Successful On-Premise Beverage Program

With the holiday season just around the corner, a peak period for on-premise wine and spirits sales, the time is now for restaurants and bars to get their beverage programs ready. On-premise retailers must learn to leverage their beverage programs because if they are successful, not only will they increase traffic and profits, but the margins can help them subsidize other costs in the business that drive overall value. 

Being successful however, is not just about promoting the latest cocktail trend on a drink menu. Being true to your concept, innovating, being vigilant about execution, and of course, collaborating with your distributor, is key.

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Making sure on-premise retailers overlay wine and spirits trends with what’s right for their concept is critical. Just because a certain drink or ingredient is hot, doesn’t mean it will resonate with a retailer’s specific consumer or brand. Be aware of the trends, and what competitors are doing, but then look at those trends through the lens of the brand to determine if it aligns. Remember, an on-premise beverage program and experience is directly linked to the overall experience and guest satisfaction. In fact, studies show that guest satisfaction increases when people have an alcohol beverage with their meal. It’s important that the program be authentic for the retailer concept to maximize effectiveness.

Consumers also expect innovation and on-premise retailers must continuously be willing to take risks and keep pace with the consumers. When being creative, remember to not be too edgy, where you leave your customers behind. The best promotions provide a level of familiarity, with a twist. For example, this year, frozen drinks made a comeback. Bartenders have been mixing up frozen versions of classic cocktails, like a frozen Moscow Mule or frozen Negroni. This is an example of putting an innovative variation on something familiar.”

Be careful of being innovative just for innovation sake. It’s important to strike a balance between keeping things fresh for the consumer, but not too difficult for the staff to execute. The most important part of any promotion is staff training and execution. Staff must understand the promotion, be able to execute it, and be comfortable with the rate of change between promotions. Without that in place, even the most creative promotion will fall flat.

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Last but not least, on-premise retailers should remember to really leverage their distributor relationships. A distributor is not just the entity that delivers the product, and should be an integral partner in the planning and execution of any on-premise retail beverage strategy. Using the insights and intelligence that a distributor provides is necessary for data-based decisions, that ultimately drive sales.

For instance, in addition to industry-leading insights, at Southern Glazer’s we bring our world-class wine education team, mixologists, and multicultural marketing group to the table to deliver even greater value to our on-premise retail customers. We work closely with our customers’ marketing and beverage strategy teams, suppliers, and our states to ensure that we have flawless execution on national programs that align with their beverage strategy.