The ‘Big Night In’ reimagined

The lockdown may have been designed to keep us apart but in many respects, it has bought us closer together. Nights out down the pub were replaced with nights in, in front of a screen. Catch-ups, quizzes, birthday parties, dates and even weddings have been taking place online as Britain’s discovered the world of Zoom.

The initial spike in demand for online communication platforms, from Zoom to Houseparty, has slowed slightly. Hospitality is slowly reopening. But we predict that this doesn’t spell the end for the ‘Big Night In’, just simply a second phase.

Recent research by KAM showed that 55% of consumers are not planning on visiting a pub or restaurant for some time. It looks like there is still going to be a high demand for online socialising and making the most of nights in doors for the foreseeable future.

The all new big night in

The ‘Big Night In’, of course, is not a new phenomenon in the world of grocery retail. It’s a marketing dynamic which has played a role in promoting BWS and snacking opportunities for many years. However, the key difference here is that this trend is now consumer led, and not supplier/retailer driven.

Before, we were trying to create occasions from which we wanted shoppers to buy into. Now, consumers have created their own occasions. We now need to fit our products to meet their new needs. The key difference, therefore, is that we must understand these consumers, and this occasions first, in order to truly offer a solution which delivers.

Alcohol remains key

Alcohol remains a key category within the “Big Night In’ occasion. There are two specific macro-trends which have been slowly filtering into consumer behaviour for some time now but have seen their popularity spike as a direct result of lockdown. One is the significant rise in alcohol-free consumption. The other is an increase in demand for ‘premium’.

The ease in which people can connect online, or access films and boxsets means that the ‘Big Night In’ can be any (or every) night of the week. During lockdown we saw changing alcohol consumption behaviours to fit in with this increased frequency of potential drinking occasions. And these didn’t necessarily mean consumption of more alcohol.

Recent research by KAM into the low and no category found that 1-in-6 consumers use low and no alcohol drinks to regulate their total alcohol consumption. Therefore, still having the same enjoyment and experience but with a slightly clearer head and less of a hangover in the morning. This trend is more prevalent with the younger generation, with as many as 1-in-4 doing so.

Premiumisation is prevalent

During lockdown, people were drinking alcohol on more occasions but having less drinks per occasion. KAM’s recent study of ‘beer enthusiasts’ found that 19% of respondents were drinking beer 6+ days a week during lockdown, up from 5% pre-lockdown. 

We have seen a premiumisation of the drinking experience. This is likely to have been accelerated during lockdown, with 47% of beer drinkers saying they had increased their consumption of more premium beers. Beer consumption became a little and often treat as consumers upgrade their choices and, as a consequence, are sought out more variety in their beer ranges. IPAs have seen the biggest increase in consumption by these drinkers during lockdown. 28% saying they’ve drunk more IPAs. With Pale Ales (21% more) and Lagers (21% more) also seeing significant consumption increases.

Big nights in, online

8-in-10 of these ‘beer enthusiasts’ have been having drinking sessions with their mates online during lockdown. This was a way to replace their traditional pub meet-ups and interestingly half of them will continue to ‘hang out’ online even after the pubs have opened.

Suppliers and retailers need to understand the dynamics at play and ensure that they include these online hangout occasions as part of their ‘Big Night In’ marketing mix. For many drinkers, premium and alcohol-free are not just a stop-gap until the pubs re-open, but an acceptable and enjoyable part of their everyday social lives.

Focussing on a core range that offers both variety within the alcohol-free and premium range is therefore key when it comes to tapping into this new breed of ‘Big Night In’ shoppers. And we’ve not even started on the associated complimentary categories…

You can access a free copy of KAM’s latest report – Beer enthusiasts: the impact of lockdown here and take a look at other free whitepapers here.

Sources: KAM Media Low & No Alcohol Report / KAM Media & BrewLDN Beer Enthusiasts:The Impact of Lockdown Report.