You always knew it was true, but now we have the numbers to back it up: Server suggestions prompt diners to try new drinks. Nearly a quarter – 23 percent – of consumers surveyed by Technomic, Inc. report they would consider ordering a non-alcohol drink they had never tried before if their waiter recommended the drink. That tendency increases to 30 percent among what the Chicago-based marketing firm calls Heavy Beverage Users. The revelations are part of Technomic’s recently released Beverage Consumer Trend Report, which involves an online survey conducted in June of 1500 consumers who had enjoyed beverages away from home.
As for the impact of suggestive selling on spirits, wine and beer, the bartender or server suggestion is influential to 27 percent of consumers surveyed, according to David Henkes, vice president and adult practice leader at Technomic.
While servers may hold sway over the diner’s choice regarding a new drink, the drink menu remains the leading influencer over all drink choices, according to information presented by Mike Ginley of Next-Level Marketing at the NRA Show in May. Bartenders had been the second ranked influencer in previous online consumer surveys conducted by Next-Level; in this recent one, however, the bartender fell to seventh place, while compatibility with food ordered taking the number two spot and specialty drinks, promoted drinks, drinks listed on the food menu and recommendations from family/friend coming in before bartender influence.
Bottom line: bartenders and servers are important in the drink selling scenario, and are probably most effective when well-trained and backed-up by effective drink promotions and point-of-sales materials including menus and table-top pieces.