How is the cost-of-living crisis affecting your customers?
Insights Manager Caroline Dean unveils new customer research into how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting consumer behaviour – and identifies some opportunities as a result.
One of the key pillars of Greene King and Belhaven’s new Value for Venues vision is business insight and advice. Value for Venues has been created with a clear goal of helping you increase your footfall, sales and profits – and one of the most powerful ways of helping you do just that is providing you with key insights that can help you understand your customers more deeply and respond to their evolving needs more quickly and more effectively.
Understanding our end user is vital to us all which is why, every month, Greene King and Belhaven survey 1,000 consumers who all have one thing in common: they are all customers in Greene King and Belhaven venues.
The findings from these monthly surveys have proven critical in helping Value for Venues continue to keep up with the latest trends and developments and ensure that we continue to meet the often rapidly changing needs of venue-goers.
You won’t be surprised to learn that, right now, the subject of most importance to your customers is the cost-of-living crisis. We all know that the cost of living has affected how consumers use our venues and we’ll all have seen the evidence of that on a daily basis.
So what did our 1,000 survey respondents say when we asked them about how they are managing their way through the cost-of-living crisis and how they are adapting their behaviours to meet the challenges facing them?
In this article you will learn some of the key findings – and we also suggest some ways that you can positively respond to the major trends that seem to be emerging.
FINDING 1: FREQUENCY OF VISIT
44% will go out as much as usual this year.
Consumers continue to acknowledge they are visiting pubs less in the current environment – but the numbers are moving in the right direction.
In Greene King’s February Pubgoers survey (filled out by 1,000 people), 44% said they’ll be going out as much as usual this year. In November last year, that number was 41%.
FINDING 2: SPECIAL OCCASIONS
51% will go out for special occasions as often or more often.
The survey took a deeper dive into the current focus for those who are visiting pubs and social venues. The key findings were that special occasions are being prioritised by the majority.
Some 51% say they will go out more often for special occasions over the next six months, compared to just 34% who say they will reduce such visits.
FINDING 3: SOCIAL OCCASIONS
48% prioritise meeting friends.
As well as special occasions, many consumers say they also prioritise general social occasions. Nearly half (48%) claim they prioritise meeting friends while almost as many (47%) say they prioritise meeting family.
FINDING 4: DAY PARTS
45% prioritise early evening.
The challenges of the last few years have led many consumers to change when they prefer to visit venues.
Late evenings, once a mainstay of the trade for many venues, are now prioritised by just 28% of pub goers. In contrast, a significant 41% prioritise lunch and even more people – 45% – prefer to visit a venue in the early evening.
The two main reasons given for this trend away from late evenings were given as a “dip in atmosphere” and “cost of living”.
FINDING 5: QUALITY
Quality is the No.1 driver.
Despite all the important concerns around the cost of living and domestic budgets, the quality of both food and drink at a venue remains the primary factor for venue-goers when choosing where to go out to eat or drink.
The two other key drivers are range and hygiene & cleanliness.
TURNING INSIGHT INTO ACTION
With these findings beginning to reveal a clearer picture of what drives your customers, what should you do to respond and ensure that you are meeting the needs of those who visit your venue?
How do you take these learnings and use them to your advantage to help you grow footfall, sales and profits?
Below we have listed some simple ways of taking what we have learned and turning it into action in your venue, action that could help you run a busier, more profitable business.
ACTION 1: EMBRACE THE OCCASION!
The research shows clearly that while there is still a strong – and growing – appetite to visit venues, guests are prioritising special occasions and social occasions.
Take time to have a think about how you can ensure your venue can cater to these occasions – either through creating the right atmosphere for meeting friends and family or through delivering a truly memorable experience.
ACTION 2: QUALITY MATTERS
Despite everything that is currently going on and the cost-of-living crisis that has swept the nation, the research very clearly shows that customers still want to go out, meet friends and family, and create new memories.
Customers may be visiting venues less often than they once did and they may be more careful about their spending than they have been in years, but the research suggests that when customers do go out, they want it to be special. That means great quality food, drink and environment.
If they are not venturing out so often, guests may be prepared to pay a premium for a better experience.
ACTION 3: ALL DAY FOCUS!
The survey demonstrated that late evenings remain a challenge across the whole market – but that doesn’t simply mean shifting your focus onto the lunch and early evening occasions that your customers are prioritising.
There are lots of ways that you can encourage guests into your venue in the evenings. Running events like pub quizzes or live music can help build the right atmosphere where customers feel safe and relaxed – and persuade them to stay longer and spend more.
Of course, the fact that customers are evidently prioritising lunch and early evening means that these represent great opportunities to take a fresh look at your entire offer and make sure that you are maximising these visit occasions
ACTION 4: KEEP IT CLEAN!
Hygiene and cleanliness have always been important to customers but the pandemic has hugely prioritised these areas for many people. Being confident that the venue they are thinking about visiting is safe and clean is now hugely important and is, in fact, the third-biggest driver of pub choice, even with Covid being less of a concern.
The pandemic has reset expectations around hygiene and cleanliness – so it’s vital to ensure you’re delivering on this and keeping all communal areas as clean and safe as possible.