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Nightclub Confidential

Information is Power – Part IV

August 19, 2009 By: Bryan Bass


In the final installment of our four-part report on the consumer survey conducted on behalf of Nightclub & Bar by Next-Level Marketing, we look specifically at what people are drinking and what categories and flavor profiles are securing a larger share of consumers’ glasses.

Looking at the spirits category, it’s no surprise vodka continues to reign supreme, especially in the nightclub sector, where 67 percent of respondents ordered the most neutral of spirits, with 41 percent saying they had ordered a flavored vodka (versus 52 percent and 25 percent total on-premise). In terms of vodka sales, Absolut and Grey Goose were neck and neck in both the nightclub sector (50 percent and 49 percent respectively) and the total on-premise sector (51 percent and 47 percent respectively). The lower-priced brands like Smirnoff and Skyy were still highly competitive in both segments as well, with Skyy seeing a drop-off outside of the nightlife world (38 percent and 36 percent, respectively, in the nightclub segment, and 41 percent and 27 percent in total on-premise). Other brands with significant market share in the nightclub sector include: Stolichnaya (18 percent), Ketel One (14 percent), Belvedere (15 percent) and Three Olives (11 percent). Absolut also ruled the flavored vodka world with 56 percent of nightclub respondents choosing Absolut’s flavors over Smirnoff (46 percent), Grey Goose (35 percent) and Skyy (29 percent).

Second in both the overall and nightclub sectors was rum, which 53 percent of nightclub respondents had ordered, with 28 percent admitting to ordering flavored rum (versus 42 percent and 23 percent in total on-premise). It should be no surprise that Bacardi was highest with 64 percent of nightclub respondents and 65 percent of total on-premise respondents choosing to fly with the bat. Captain Morgan solidly landed in second (51 percent) with Malibu (37 percent) and Parrot Bay (29 percent) rounding out the brands with double-digit tallies. Somewhat surprisingly, only 8 percent of on-premise respondents said they had ordered Cruzan Rum, barely above upstart brands like Tommy Bahama and Moët Hennessy’s 10 Cane.

In third place, and certainly closing the gap in the nightclub-specific sector, was tequila with 50 percent of survey respondents having order tequila in a nightclub this year (versus 38 percent in total on-premise). Being a national survey, Jose Cuervo landed in the top spot but was the only top brand to register a higher number in total on-premise respondents (69 percent) than in nightclub respondents (67 percent). The strong runner-up was Patron with 44 percent, and these two brands were far above the rest: The next biggest nightclub brands were Don Julio (19 percent), 1800 (17 percent), Cabo Wabo and Sauza (tied at 14 percent) and Herradura (10 percent). The Bacardi-backed boutique tequila Corzo landed 2 percent of respondents.

The only other spirit to get dissected with such detail was the gin category, where Tanqueray landed the top spot (41 percent) among nightclub patrons, quickly followed up by Seagram’s (39 percent) and Bombay Sapphire (38 percent). Other gins landing nods from the consuming public were Beefeater (26 percent), Bombay Original (20 percent) and Gordon’s (11 percent) while mixology-favored brands like Hendrick’s (5 percent) and Plymouth (3 percent) received little love from our club-going respondents.

While we know wine and nightlife aren’t exactly a match made in heaven, wine sells somewhat consistently — although our survey indicates those drinking wine in nightclubs aren’t very picky. In fact, nearly one-third of nightclub wine drinkers said they didn’t care if they drank domestic or imported wines versus 47 percent of the total on-premise consumer who prefer to drink local and 28 percent who don’t stray outside of California. When in the club, 22 percent look for a full-flavored red, and 32 percent are looking for Merlot. The top white varietal for nightclub-goers was predictably a chardonnay (24 percent), followed by pinot grigio (21 percent), although 29 percent said they preferred a white zinfandel. As for the brand’s themselves, no surprises there, with Sutter Home (22 percent) and Beringer (18 percent) peaking domestic wine choices among nightclub patrons, and Yellow Tail (40 percent) dominating the import category.

Lastly, on the beer side of the business, the domestics continue to hold their own with 58 percent percent of nightclub respondents ordering domestic versus 29 percent selection  imports and 13 percent preferring smaller craft brands. Regular beer had a slight edge over light (52 percent vs. 48 percent). On the draft beer side, 51 percent expect their bartenders to put some care into pouring a draft beer while 41 percent wanted it served in its proper glassware. That being said, only 11 percent were willing to pay extra for a well-presented draft product. Light brands took the top two spots as far as nightclub guest ordering practices go, with 43 percent having ordered a Bud Light and 32 percent choosing Miller Lite. Other nightclub notables include Budweiser (30 percent), Coors Light (28 percent), Michelob Ultra (18 percent) and Rolling Rock (17 percent). On the imported side, the top three are rather obvious: Corona (52 percent), Heineken (38 percent) and Guinness (27 percent). Others worth mentioning include Dos Equis (18 percent), Newcastle Brown (17 percent) and Stella Artois (16 percent). The top handcrafted beers also shouldn’t be much of a surprise, with 40 percent opting for Samuel Adams and 33 percent for Blue Moon.


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