People say they want healthy food options in restaurants but in reality they indulge in less-than-healthful dishes when dining out (we at Technomic actually have the data to back that up). A similar phenomenon is occurring in adult beverages. Our recent research reveals that while consumers say they are cutting back on their drink spending to save money, many are actually indulging in the more expensive stuff at the bar.
Case in point: on-premise whiskey. Our BarTAB report analysis of the category’s performance in restaurants and bars reveals that whether domestic or imported, the upper echelon of whiskey expanded while blends and other less-expensive selections declined in sales and volume in 2011. American straight whiskey, single malt Scotch and Irish whiskey each posted gains; we see that trend continuing in 2012.
Consumer confidence, which drives spending in restaurants and bars, is certainly not yet at pre-recession levels. However, the combination of the slowly improving economy and pent-up demand is obviously prompting some patrons to trade up to above-premium options. This trend is occurring at a time when 58% of spirits consumers report cutting back on ordering drinks in bars and restaurants to save money. Apparently what they say and what they do are two different things, something to consider as you sharpen your drink menu’s value proposition for the holiday season.