Whether in tier 1, 2 or 3, the immediate future remains uncertain for England’s pubs. New restrictions, including the 10pm curfew and bans on households mixing indoors, provide yet further challenges for pubs. They also exacerbate the traditional challenges that pubs face and have faced for many years; how to drive more (and new) footfall and how to diversify the offer to open up opportunities to increase incremental spend in their venues.
Diversification across the high street
If you look down your typical high street, you will see a trend which has been happening across various retail and hospitality outlets for years. Convenience stores incorporating parcel collection/delivery services. Café style seating areas and butcher’s counters. Coffee shops becoming remote working spaces and offering areas for local clubs and groups to meet on a weekly basis. Bicycle repair shops with a quality coffee offer and indoor seating. Clothes shops showcasing art by local artists for sale. The list goes on. The trend is diversification and the transformation of traditional ‘one box’ retail into hybrid outlets. Straddling retail and hospitality and creating multiple ‘points of entry’ for customers across different day parts, different occasions and different missions.
It could be said that pubs are one of the more traditional outlets on the typical high street. With many operating within a parameter that has been set for a century or more. We’ve already seen the pandemic fast-track the use of technology in thousands of venues and we believe that it’s only a matter of time before we see further diversification across the pub scene. For many it will be these additional opportunities that allow the industry not just to survive, but thrive.
Latest research highlights diversification initiatives for pubs
New research from our friends at TWC (https://twcgroup.net) has highlighted some initiatives for diversification in pubs, that customers would be interested in seeing.
Source: TWC Research October 2020.
The initiatives that customers would like to see range from cultural events to meeting spaces for local groups. Alongside GP pop-up surgeries, educational classes and selling everyday grocery items. One thing is clear. Customers are open to ideas and are looking for more options and opportunities to visit their local pub. A recent survey from The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) showed that pubs are 4th on the list of types of businesses which have a positive impact on your local area. Convenience stores were number one. With Post Offices and Pharmacies completing the top three. Pubs play an important part in the local community. Yet they have a platform to do so much more than serve food and drink.
Time to take pubs to the next level
Whether it’s giving up space for local community groups or creating bespoke cocktail making classes. Many of these initiatives create revenue opportunities not only in themselves but also in the added exposure and awareness they create throughout the local area and beyond. Traditional pub events (quiz nights, live music, food themes, etc.) have been the way in which publicans have managed to breathe freshness into their weekly offer. However these ideas are just some of the ways that pubs can start to take this to the next level. We’ve already seen the diversification in pubs through the rise in remote working in pubs (https://kam-media.co.uk/pub-desks) and the rise in technology enhancing the customer experience (https://kam-media.co.uk/technology_enhanced_customer_experience). It’s time to take pubs to the next level and set the foundations for future success.
Blake Gladman, Strategy & Insight Director, KAM Media