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Nightclub Confidential

Information is Power: Part 2

July 23, 2009 By: Bryan Bass


In last issue of Nightclub Confidential we looked at the results of three surveys, two from famed rating guide Zagat (L.A. and NYC), as well as results from the brand-new Nightclub & Bar Advisory Board consumer survey. In that review we examined trends in customer traffic patterns as well as guest spending habits. If you missed that piece, start from the beginning by clicking here. If you are staying up to date, and we hope you are, read on for more results and opinions from the people packing the clubs and buying the drinks.

One somewhat surprising number that jumped out of the survey was the percentage of customers who approached the bartender without a specific order in mind. Seventy-one percent of total on-premise consumers and 74 percent of nightclub consumers did not know what beer, wine or spirit drink they would order in advance. So what is influencing their decision? A wide range of responses were garnered, with “recommendation from friend or family member” hitting home the hardest with nightclub patrons (24 percent versus 20 percent for total on-premise consumers). “A house specialty” received the second-most nods from nightclub drinkers (23 percent versus 19 percent for all on-premise drinkers). The highest-ranked determining factor for on-premise patrons was “beverage menu listing drink offerings” (22 percent), which ranked third for nightclub patrons (22 percent), tying with “drink specials” or “drink special board” (only 17 percent of total on-premise selected this option).

Other responses that received significant votes: “bartender suggestion” at 21 percent for nightclubs (18 percent total on-premise), “drink being featured on special promotion” at 17 percent for nightclubs (13 percent on-premise) and “something on the table that promotes a drink,” “bar top handles” and a “drink listed on a food menu” for 12 percent of nightclub patrons.

So while people might not be going on as much as they once did or spending as much money, they still are influenced by the nightclub operator through product promotions, house specialties, staff recommendations, table tents and other promotional point-of-sale.

Similarly, operators still are greatly influencing drink selection: 50 percent of nightclub patrons said they had tried a new drink within the last 30 days; expand that timeline out to 90 days and you hit 75 percent of nightclub consumers versus 59 percent of the total on-premise respondents. As for those stubborn customers who stick to what they know and want, only 5 percent of nightclub patrons responded as not having tried a new drink within the last year (16 percent total on-premise).

In our next issue, we will take a more in-depth look at the impact of menus and premium brands, and then examine the spirits category itself to see what products are selling and what flavor profiles are deader than a dodo.  Just remember, if you’re not reading this, your competitor probably is!


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