Looking for new ways to up your bar, bistro, brewery, or restaurant’s beer game? Then you’ve come to the right place. With the global beer market projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% between 2020-2025, and with the rising popularity of innovatively flavored craft beers, there has never been a more opportune time to increase your alcoholic beverage sales. As every restauranteur knows, the drinks you serve as an accessory to meals offers a higher return on investment (ROI) than your food.
Fortunately, there are myriads of time-proven and new strategies to boost beer sales in your establishment. Moreover, you are going to need updated tactics to attract the ale-loving crowds since competition in the bar and pub industry is off the charts. So, prepare to drink in the following tips and tricks that will help your biz’ stand out from the pack and attract a steady flow of thirsty customers.
Ensure a Variety of Beer Types
With consumer interest in beer going strong, there has been a proliferation of beer types available, as well as a segmentation of selections into categories that include: Lagers, Ales, Standard Beers, Premium Beers, Super Premium Beers, Draught or Draft Beers (aka On Tap), Bottled, and Craft beers. The latter, in particular, represents one of the most sought-after items on the market, and savvy bar and restaurant owners are flocking to craft beer brewers to take advantage of what they have to offer.
What is Craft Beer?
If you are new to the ‘biz, understanding the term craft beer, aka “microbrew,” is essential as there are now more than 2,600 craft brewers in the United States alone with over 2,500 brands sold. In a nutshell, as opposed to the macrobrew conglomerates such as Coors, Budweiser, and Miller, these micro counterparts are made and owned by smaller, independent breweries. Their beers are typically hand-crafted from ingredients that combine salty, fruity, and tart flavors, and are hence tastier and more expensive.
It is also important to note that Millennials, the generation born between the 1980s and early 2000s, are largely driving the craft beer industry. They seek flavor, authenticity, and innovation in the lagers they drink, enjoy experimenting with a variety of local and seasonal selections, and are willing to pay top dollar for their picks. Women also claim a large share of the craft beer arena, so be sure to include ‘Ladies Nights’ promotions on your menu.
The bottom line? There are no right or wrong answers to the question “What is the best beer?” Rather, there are plenty of options for your customers to have fun with and plenty of potential for your bar to drive up business success.
Bar and Beer Promotion Ideas
To give you an edge on the competition and speed up your slow nights, the following is a compilation of bar and beer promotion ideas. Show customers you have their best interest on tap and give them a reason to come back for more by employing clever marketing tactics and by adding exciting beer-focused events and promotions.
Some of the numerous ways to do so are:
- Create an Irresistible Beer Menu: Keeping in mind that one of the keys to consumers’ beer-drinking hearts is a compelling beer menu, be sure to include domestics and imports (i.e. Labbat or Molson), cans, bottles, pitchers, draft and on-tap pours, keg pours, and new technologies such as self-pour drink walls that are guaranteed to positively impact customer experience. The latter allows customers to sample drinks from a ‘beverage wall’ and try a variety of beers in small quantities before committing to a full glass. Since the drinks are paid for by the ounce and wait time is reduced, higher consumption rates ensue, while the twist-on-the-traditional is a surefire method for differentiating your offerings and ushering in traffic.
- Provide Detailed Drink Information: Transparency and education are important to today’s consumers, so be sure to provide detailed information on your draft list and drink menus.
- Serve Alternative Beverages: With preference for low- and no-alcohol drinks on the rise, be sure to provide a variety of alternative beverages. In fact, some of the most popular breweries in the ‘biz now offer fruity kombucha flavors, bubbly hard seltzers, craft coffee beans, and low-cal drinking options.
- Harness the Power of Experiential Taprooms: The dawning of a new age has arrived with the likes of breweries that have transformed their spaces into hip hangouts with artfully designed “Experiential Taprooms.” Your restaurant or bar could also be on the cutting edge of these architectural conversation pieces by following in the footsteps of establishments such as the Halfway Crooks brewery in Atlanta, Georgia, which is drawing in the masses with hi-fi equipment, scores of video and television screens, and other quirky knick-knacks.
- Brainstorm Creative Drink Names: Consumers are attracted to ideas and themes they are familiar with and to alcoholic beverage names they can share and laugh about with their friends. Therefore some of the most popular craft beers are named after favorite movie stars, superheroes, and iconic films and TV shows. Spend time researching your target market’s interests and then enjoy reaping the rich rewards gained by valuable (and free!) word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations.
- Cash in on Social Media for Beer Lovers: There is no better means of marketing all your offerings than the free exposure provided by social media. From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Pinterest, no modern-day eatery or beverage business can afford to miss out on the golden age of the Internet. However, when it comes to beer sales, the news gets even better. You can now promote your beer list and events on special apps such as Untappd, Taphunter, and Food/Drink Bloggers where beer fans themselves can rate and write reviews for preferred lagers. Put yourself on their radar by investing in some paid advertising.
- Send Your Bartenders and Waiters to Beer University: Did you know that budding bartenders can now go to beer school online? With basic courses such as Beer 101 from the Brewers Association (a mere $25 for the quiz and certificate) or the more expansive training provided by Cicerone Certification, your staff will be able to advise and sell with a voice of authority, increasing both their appeal to the craft crowds and your sales. For example, if you do your homework, you will learn the rules of beer glassware and build loyalty by serving craft brews in special TeKu glasses, designed to enhance every sip…
Beer Launching Events
To launch new products and to keep customer traffic flowing even on weekdays, consider hosting a variety of exciting bar events. They are not only another means of standing out in the crowded market space, they are loads of fun for drinkers and may also give the local press something to write about. Some select ideas include: Weekly trivia contests; booking live music; offering your bar or restaurant as a space for community events; new and seasonal beer release parties; guided educational tasting events; comedy nights; open mics showcasing diverse customer talents; social media contests where first prize goes to the most creative post or picture of your bar/brewery; karaoke nights; ladies’ and singles’ nights; speed dating; holiday celebrations (think Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother/Father’s Day, Labor Day, and more); charity fundraisers (a great way to give back to your community, direct customers your way, and boost your business’s image); and live sports screenings.
Beer and Sports Go Hand-in-Hand
There is perhaps no more profitable way to boost publicity and attract bar business than pairing your drink offerings with local and global sporting events. And when it comes to marketing sporting events, no game rakes in the big bucks like the Super Bowl. Here is a list of ingredients recommended for live screening success: Large video screens or HD TVs; state-of-the-art sound systems; free drink offers celebrating hometown team wins; sports decor and paraphernalia (i.e. banners, flags, balloons with team logos, team hats or jerseys/sweatshirts, tablecloths with Super Bowl motifs, and more); special menu offerings and discounts; a conventional or electronic scoreboard.
Add Bar Games to Your Beer Menu
Some well-known bar games have become synonymous with beer drinking. Depending on your target demographic, you can sweeten the profit deck by dealing the right cards. Some popular picks for your restaurant, bar, or pub include: Table Games (think air hockey, shuffleboard, pool, and foosball); Dice Drinking Games; Darts; Bar Roulette (inspired by the iconic Wheel of Fortune TV show, customers spin the wheel to determine their drink pick); Poker Tournaments; Bingo Nights; Photo Booths (allowing customers to take selfies and fun group shots to post on social media); Beat the Bartender – with a proven rate of promotional success, drinkers challenge bartenders to coin flips, dice rolls, and rock-paper-scissors games. Winners merit a discount on their order, a buy-one-get-one-free card, and any other quirky prize you can think of.
Equip Your Bar for Success
There are many more tried-and-true tactics for increasing beer and drink sales. From adding outdoor seating to accommodate large groups, smokers and dog owners, to offering customers free drinks on birthdays, to upgrading Happy Hour offers (yes, Happy Hours DO drive more drink sales), the list goes on.
At the same time, make sure your restaurant or bar is equipped for success with the proper coolers and freezers, ice machines, underbar sinks (where glasses are washed/reused), bar stools, blenders, bottle openers, corkscrews, and beer glassware.
Say Cheers to Brewing Up More Beer Business
So, there you have it: A wide range of practical tips at your fingertips for brewing up more beer business. Not only will these ideas help increase beer sales, but you will be raising the bar on your establishment’s overall profitability.
Summing up with famous words from none other than Benjamin Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”