Carving a niche: The new challenge for the pub landlord

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As pubs increasingly try to be all things to all people, new research suggests that it is in carving out a specific niche that the pub-landlord best positions his venue for high-returns.

The latest research on British market trends from research firm the Mintel group shows significant disparity between demographics of customers: older drinkers seek a more traditional pub experience,and a burgeoning millennial customer-base are looking for more unconventional features.

“Millennials are particularly likely to view pubs as all-round leisure experiences and are receptive to new and more unusual forms of entertainment,” remarked the company’s associate director for food and drink Emma Clifford. “The difficulty for landlords will be to cater for these open-minded pubgoers while also meeting the needs of traditional patrons.”

In an interview with the Morning Advertiser, UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls added a vocal ascent to Mintel’s findings – and urged diversification to publicans keen to capture a younger crowd.

“We’re seeing lots of pubs put a new spin on familiar ideas,” she told the trade publication. “Some…have harnessed a sport that has certainly never been traditionally seen in pubs – while others have become known for board games or vintage video games, blurring the line between the pub and the arcade.”

One commonality ringing clear from Mintel’s latest survey is something of an old-record to industry observers:the paramount importance of good quality tucker.

The company claims that as many as 87 per cent of respondents, young and old, insist that “high-quality” fare is now important to them on their pub visits.

Fellow market-researchers CGA Strategy’s data provides further elaboration – with a recent survey of landlords finding that the key areas of emerging F&B was in the provision of vegan cuisine (69 per cent).

And whilst TV football has been a mainstay of the pub for several decades, choosing a different sport and sticking with it – as well as throwing into the mix technological upgrades like projectors and table-based i-pads – can help to create a unique interpretation of brand for any given location.

“Some pubs have tapped into mixed martial arts, American football or wrestling,” Nicholls explained. “All-nighters showing sports are increasingly popular, and events like the Super Bowl can help a draw customers who might not usually watch sport in a pub.”

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