by Jo Robinson
on May 02, 2019

Maximising the ROI from your Drinks Menu

Off-trade sales have overtaken on-trade drink sales. More people are now drinking at home than in pubs or clubs. So it’s more important than ever to maximise your opportunities.

Don’t underestimate the value of your drinks menu. 90% of guests will look at the drinks menu before ordering. On average they spend only 109 seconds choosing their drink, so it pays to ensure your high margin drinks are the ones that leap off the page and attract the most attention. The decision as to which items you want to pop is dependent entirely on your brand and commercial strategy, but good menu design can pay dividends by improving the guest experience as well as helping you drive more spend per head.

1) Make it easy
Understanding what your customers want from their drinking experience in the first place can provide great insights into how you should structure the navigation and categorisation of the drinks menu. If your brand is all about discovering new and unusual drinks such as craft beers, wines or cocktails, you may think differently to a bar who knows their customers are more price sensitive and want to stay for longer. Including a drinks directory to major on a particular category can improve the perception of your brand positioning. For example O’Neills relaunched their brand with emphasis on Irish-American provenance, so whiskies and bourbons became a primary focus for their drinks menu, with messaging around heritage, taste and distillation techniques giving them a unique territory to own.

When educating a guest about new flavours, you may wish to choose descriptive headers to categorise the different options. Using sensory adjectives to describe the drink, such as crisp, earthy, fragrant, will help a guest qualify their drink decision, especially when photography isn’t possible.
There are 4 types of descriptors: geographic (Sicilian lemons), nostalgic (Grandma’s apple pie), sensory (creamy, spicy) and brand names (e.g, Tanqueray gin). Country of origin is also something customers will look for and have an opinion about. The more information you can give will allow your guests to trade up for an alternative.

2) Photography is key
Inspire guests by using beautiful photography that showcases the drinks you most want to sell. We know people are often more likely to buy cocktails because of the way they look and the experience they provide, rather than a list of botanicals that they may not be able to imagine the taste of.

Our experience tells us that drinks featured in photography outsell any other in a standard listing. Remember the 109 second rule? If you have an abundant menu, you don’t have very long to grab attention and up-sell from the standard coke or lime and soda. That said we also know brands that have come a cropper because whilst everyone wanted to sample the hero front cover drink, it was operationally more tricky to make, so customer experience was being let down by long wait times (and resulted in a menu reprint half way through the cycle to manage demand). Choose well however, and a hero spread in a well-designed menu can help increase the popularity of your recommended drinks by 25% and contribute to overall uplift in LFL by 30%.

3) Don’t overlook the soft option
More than half of all food opportunities include a soft drink. Take into consideration breakfast and lunch as well as dinner, and consider whether your drinks menu properly serves all of these occasions. Soft drinks are no longer just for drivers or under 18s. With alcohol moderation a rapidly growing social trend, the category is becoming more and more innovative, with no or lo-alcohol cocktails regularly part of the menu and new grown up softs like Thomas & Evans and even no-alcohol spirits like Seedlip or Stryyk growing in popularity. The challenge to brand-owners is how to present these alternatives in their point of sale. The menu navigation needs to be carefully considered and we are seeing softs gradually take more real-estate, with profit opportunities mirroring this. Sales uplift driven through considered menu design can contribute up to 5% more revenue for your business overall.

Sources: CGA Peach, Britvic, Clarity client anecdotal evidence and performance figures.


Jo Robinson

Jo has over 20 years experience working in advertising and marketing agencies and has worked with clients across the automotive, FMCG and hospitality sectors. Her spare time is taken up with family and their dog – Harry the Korthals Griffon.