By: Sean Hsu, CEO of Botrista Beverages
A recent Datassential report released the sobering statistic of nearly four in five restaurants reducing their hours by an average of 6.4 hours per week since 2019. This set off an alarm for restaurant operators, as reduced hours mean minimized foot traffic, leading to substantial financial losses across the industry. Because of this, operators have scrambled to find innovative ways to attract new customers and retain existing ones. One way in doing so has been tapping into expanded beverage programs. If you haven’t looked into ways to elevate your beverage services, the time is now. Here are our top three ways restaurant operators can leverage this lucrative steam of income and essential facet to their business.
In Tune With The Trends
Shifts in consumer behavior are ever changing, dictated by environmental, situational, cultural and even familial implications. Emerging consumer trends disrupt how businesses operate, communicate with and serve their customers. It’s essential for restaurant operations to follow these trends and to stay agile in how and what they deliver to consumers, for their business to not only stay afloat, but to prosper.
One trend that has skyrocketed is in the prioritization of health and wellness. The International Food Information Council’s 2021 survey found that 85% of Americans reported drastic changes to their diet over the course of the pandemic, with 72% claiming they are eating and drinking in a more conscious manner, and overall make healthier choices of what they put into their bodies. One way operators can reflect this trend in their beverage services is through the increasing popularity of energy drinks. Gaining traction more specifically are energy drinks with low sugar content and higher natural ingredients. This is due to the desire for increased energy, enhanced mental alertness and physical performance in daily activities.
In regard to health and wellness as well comes the rise of the mocktail trend. Consumers who are of legal drinking age have increasingly become more mindful of the amount of alcohol they are consuming and reconsider lifestyle choices alike. However, this does not mean that they don’t care about having an enjoyable, tasteful and sophisticated drink in hand. Further, mocktails have become a way for people to avoid any external pressures of having to drink alcoholic beverages while attending social events.
The Hype of LTOs
We know the hype around Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice latte and the crowds that flock to storefronts during the Fall all too well. Seasonal drinks and limited time offers (LTOs) are beloved by consumers, and for good reason. They are a great way to offer a unique dining experience, give them something out of the ordinary to talk about and provide a chance to get new customers through the door. For this reason, people gravitate toward LTOs and want to take advantage of them as it creates a sense of urgency, scarcity and exclusivity.
Restaurant operators can leverage a LTO strategy through their beverage services around seasonal flavors, a specific event or an emerging trend. Whichever you decide, communicate that this offering will not last forever, that customers need to act now and that they can’t get something like this anywhere else!
The Bolder, The Better
Customers dining out want more than just an elevated food experience away from home, they want beverage options that can’t be found in their refrigerator as well. Consumers have an appreciation for bold, elaborate drink flavors, and are likely to try new drinks that display uniqueness and eccentricity. One way restaurant operators have begun to explore this is through natural syrups and purees to fresh, dynamic and fruity flavors. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various infused flavors, garnishes and overall drink presentation! Daring to be different will only make your beverage offerings stand out, drive greater foot traffic and create buzz around your dining experience.