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Winning in Wales: Five consumer insights from CGA




Successful On Premise strategies in Wales require an expert understanding of consumers’ latest preferences and priorities.


At the recent Welsh Food & Drink Insight Conference, CGA’s Phil Montgomery shared insights from CGA by NIQ’s latest research to reveal what they want at the moment and how brands can reach them.

 

Here are five takeaways from his session:

 

1 Earlier dayparts

There has been a steady shift towards earlier On Premise occasions over the last few years. CGA’s OPUS research has shown fewer than a third (31.9%) of consumers now typically go out after 8pm—a drop of 1.6 percentage points in just 12 months. Numbers going out in the early evening fell even further—by 4 percentage points to 64.2%. This has put pressure on higher tempo occasions and venues like nightclubs, where sales and site numbers have fallen. But the trend has also created opportunities in earlier dayparts. Numbers going out for lunch and during the afternoon have increased year-on-year by 1 and 0.7 percentage points respectively.

 

2 Weekend occasions compressed

Pressure on spending has led some consumers to limit their weekend visits to pubs, bars and restaurants. Fridays’ share of weekly drinks sales is now 2.2 percentage points less in city and town centres than it was before COVID-19, but Saturdays have picked up 1.2 percentage points of share. Some Friday occasions have switched from central to suburban areas.

 

3 Growing demand for experiences

Consumers are increasingly demanding more than just good food and drink in hospitality venues—they want all-round, memorable experiences. This has raised the popularity of competitive socialising venues and other experiential concepts. Two in five (41%) business leaders told CGA’s Business Confidence Survey that experience-led concepts are well placed to thrive in the next 12 months—a year-on-year increase of nine percentage points. Meanwhile, nearly two thirds (64%) of consumers say they like visiting event spaces and creative venue complexes, like Manchester’s Escape to Freight Island and Liverpool’s Baltic Market.

 

4 Drinking less but drinking better

The cost-of-living crisis has sharpened people’s focus on the value and quality of drinks. It has reduced frequency of visits, and 33% of consumers told CGA they have reduced the number of drinks they buy when they go out. However, only half that total (16%) say they have reduced the quality of their drinks. This is a reminder that value doesn’t necessarily equal cheap—it just means people want to be sure that the quality they get justifies whatever money they are spending.

 

5 Spirits down, longer drinks up

The emphasis on value has triggered some important shifts in drinks categories in Wales. Sales of spirits fell 1.5% by value in 2023, but longer serves like beer (up 5.9%) and soft drinks (up 5.4%) were in growth. While only 7% of consumers are buying more spirits than they were a year ago, 19% are choosing soft or no/low alcohol drinks more often. This may reflect people’s perceptions that longer serves deliver better value for money than short ones.

 

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