Today’s consumers seek variety on drink menus. More than half of consumers surveyed say variety of spirits/cocktails (58%) and wine (54%) is important on restaurant menus, while nearly half say the same for beer selection (46%). Additional insights found in the Technomic 2014 BarTAB Report indicate that drink selection can drive traffic and enhance the overall experience of dining out, both of which are important to improving sales and profits.
Operators are responding to varied degrees: the number of adult beverage offerings on all on-premise menus tracked in the MenuMonitor tool rose 5.0% in the third quarter of 2014 as compared with the same period in 2013. During that time, however, national and regional chain restaurants actually reduced the number of beverage offerings (-0.3%). In recent conversations with chain operators, we’re hearing more about the need to trim adult beverage offerings to make drink programs more manageable. Does that fly in the face of consumer demand?
Not necessarily. Consider that “variety” doesn’t always require an extensive number of items. Today’s consumer is discerning, and possesses a greater understanding of beer, wine and spirits styles, flavors, origins and price levels. Presenting five definitive beer styles with two selections of varied price points or flavor profiles in each enables a tight beer list to communicate variety to the guest. Rotate seasonal or specialty brews and the variety requirement is likely more than satisfied. Beverage professionals looking to quench consumers’ thirst for variety while also operating efficiently should implement category management and menu engineering practices, and also apply a sharp understanding of their guests’ preferences, palate and price thresholds.