Party season is well underway but not everyone wants to drink alcohol every night! In Kamila Sitwell’s soon to be published ‘Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation’ she discusses how the customer need for healthier drinks prepared exactly the way they like is on the rise in bars and restaurants and why they should be catered for.
“Following high profile media campaigns and awareness raising, sugary drinks are very much not the flavour of the month. Consumers are increasingly looking to replace these with healthier, yet tasty, beverages, but it’s not sweetness that they want to avoid. Whether it be fitness enthusiasts or hard-core clean eaters who follow a strict diet six days a week that allow themselves a ‘cheat day’, consumers on a health kick on Mondays tend to be much more relaxed in their choices by Saturday, and this poses a challenge for the drinks (and foodservice) industry.
“Consumers are no longer fooled by zero-calorie claims and are well aware of the health risks of sweeteners, such as aspartame, preferring to choose sugar over such alternatives, albeit resentfully given any lack of real choice. As a healthier alternative, Mintel’s report, “Attitudes towards Premium Soft Drinks” suggests that 25% of millennials are willing to pay more for natural sweeteners, such as agave syrup, which is viewed as a premium natural product. Mintel also reported that 62% of consumers will pay more for a premium soft drink with a clear difference in taste compared to cheaper brands. This, they say, indicates that “taste should be a central tenet in brands’ marketing in this segment.” Once again, the answer to this is customisation.
“Custom-made smoothies and mocktails are one of the most promising developments in this area. I’ve conducted my own research by approaching a number of leading bar professionals to obtain a better insight into how leading bars are tailoring their offer, in particular to female customers. The response was that there has been a steady rise in demand for ‘healthy’ items that are perceived as being “good for you”, loaded with fresh quality ingredients, premium botanicals and floral fragrances. These drinks are not “boring” because they lack sugar; in fact, knowing what they’re made of, plus where the ingredients are sourced from and how they are served are all vital for the customer experience. Think cold-pressed juices, shrubs, super-fruits, herbs and spices packed with live probiotics and endless health benefits served in glamorous glassware and unusual garnishes. Sugar is being reduced across the board to be replaced by dried fruits, coconut or natural syrups to provide the sweet zing we crave. 'Skinny' cocktails using fresh fruit such as watermelon or strawberries, topped up with coconut water, rather than fruit juice, can still be indulgent.
“This trend is rapidly attracting the attention of bars in the UK and many are now offering their own distinctive creative flair, plus customisation that emphasises their individuality and sharpens their competitive edges. For example, At Tredwell's in London, the Gunpowder Gimlet is made with gin, cardamom, green tea and lime; it can be ordered without any sense of guilt whatsoever! Whilst at the Grain Store, an industrial-chic restaurant with a vegetable-based menu, offers savoury cocktails, from Bloody Marys made with horseradish vodka, Aubergine sours with aubergine rum, blood orange saffron Bellinis to a sour cherry lemonade. These combinations show that ‘healthier’ options needn’t be boring and that it’s possible to create the most amazing drinks that see customers returning for more. The element of customisation is key in that consumers appreciate the opportunity the choice to add or subtract ingredients. Keeping a store of flexible flavours available, therefore, allows bars to offer guests a sense of luxury with a drink that’s completely unique to the individual. After all, following a strict diet can leave one craving opportunities to enjoy the flavours we love the most. Women in particular are more concerned than men about what they consume and are increasingly looking for 'authentic' drinks which are characterised by their heritage, or the craft that goes into them.”
The above is a short extract from Kamila Sitwell’s upcoming book “Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation” which can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Bespoke will help raise your game in the competitive world of hospitality, providing you with fresh insights needed to steer a course to your customers delight, loyalty and ultimately business success.