Think you no longer need a drinks card? Think again. A panel of consumer information at the 2023 show Cocktail Tales Last July’s convention made the case for printed drink lists, even as many restaurateurs moved to QR code menus.
Almost all consumers will look at the menu first, said Simone Ventura, director of on-premises customer solutions for Bacardi United States. Proper engineering and design can attract more attention and make navigation easier, allowing customers to make decisions more quickly, she noted. Additionally, “you can increase purchase intent by 50% on optimally placed cocktails. »
Menu design is key, said Adrian Biggs, director of business advocacy for Bacardi USA. He advised attendees to invest in the services of a graphic designer because “you can charge more for drinks with a sexy menu.”
Cocktail ordering, caption boxes, image descriptions, branding and fonts on a menu all have a big impact on purchase intent, Ventura added. A beautiful image of a cocktail with local or seasonal flavors labeled with “fresh” ingredients will help boost sales.
Seasonality is the most important factor in customers’ purchasing decisions for limited-time offers, Ventura said. For example, pumpkin is the most popular flavor for cocktails in October, while strawberry is the most popular flavor overall.
Panelist Julien Calella, beverage director of Group I Wish You Were Here, which operates seven different restaurant/bar concepts, agreed that seasonal flavors sell. Every time he includes a drink with cucumber as an ingredient on the menu when it’s hot outside, “it sells like hot cakes.”
Menu engineering is very important, said Elisa Cordova, senior beverage marketing manager for the Asian restaurant concept. PF Chang. “You have one minute to be able to sell a guest a drink and make them think about it in the second. »
Certainly, there are expenses associated with printing menus, Cordova said. It costs PF Chang, which has more than 300 locations worldwide, costs $300,000 each time it wants to reprint a menu, “and it’s a paper menu.” But it’s worth it.
Like many restaurants, PF Chang’s switched to QR code menus during Covid. “Now we have a drink menu on the table and a QR code menu for food,” Cordova said. This led to a 12% increase in sales, she noted.
Not that the bartender is obsolete in the drink selection process. Up to 74% of guests will seek the advice of a bartender when choosing a cocktail, said Matthew Crompton, regional director – Americas, for NielsenIQ.
Keep in mind that many consumers have already viewed your cocktail menu online or on Instagram, Crompton said. “Social networks are part of the purchasing journey. »
People want that beautiful cocktail for Instagram, whether it’s kitsch, minimalist, trendy, etc., Ventura said. And people who post tend to spend more on drinks, so you can charge more for these highly Instagrammable cocktails.
But it’s not just a question of cocktail looks: the premiumization trend of people drinking “less, but better” in bars and restaurants continues. When given a choice, consumers will opt for quality over quantity, Crompton said.
He cited a survey of 30,000 people in 27 different countries that asked participants what to spend $20 on if they ordered a drink there. Almost a quarter (22%) said they would splurge on a luxury/superpremium drink; 44% said they would opt for two high quality/premium drinks; 24% would order three drinks of average quality; 5% would go for four standard/lower quality drinks; and another 5% would have five entry-level drinks.
The brands used in cocktails and promoted on menus make the difference. PF Chang’s organic agave margarita with Patron Silver tequila proved to be a hit after changing one of three ingredients. When the chain changed tequila brands, the Margarita went from the sixth best-selling drink to second place, behind the chain’s signature Asian pear martini.
It also speaks to the overall strength of the Margarita, which Ventura said was the best-selling cocktail at almost every chain in the United States. “One in five cocktails sold in the United States in a Margarita,” she said.