How to Implement Drink Promotions & Drink Offers Responsibly & Legally
Drink promotions and drink offers need to be implemented responsibly and legally.
This guide looks at the possible laws surrounding drink promotions and drink offers, the responsibility you have as a venue and the right way to implement drink related promotions and offers.
The problem with drinks promotions and drink offers
Data doesn’t lie. Year on year the data suggests that people are spending less on going out.
This is for a number of reasons. The culture around drinking has changed massively with young people being more health conscious and more money conscious.
Also due to the cheap price of alcohol in supermarkets compared to bars and pubs, people are choosing to drink at home more.
This is evident with the amount of club and pub closures, as well as their average spend decreasing every year. However, these closures are usually in the suburbs. Cities still have many venues and new ones prop up every year, hoping they can steal a share of the market with their ‘new idea’.
What this means is that there is less demand but more supply, especially in cities. There are far more venues compared to how many customers there are who want to visit. This is evident in most cities where venues are struggling to get to full capacity.
The problem with this disequilibrium is that all of these venues are competing to try and get customers to attend. And this means that venues are ignoring the ‘laws’ and their ‘responsibility’ as venue owners just so that they can survive.
One method of doing this is by offering irresponsible and sometimes unlawful drink promotions and drink offers. And this of course, is not good for society or for the whole industry in general.
An example of an unlawful and irresponsible drink offer is offering ‘all-you-can-drink Prosecco’, all in a two-hour time slot for £20. These sort of drink promotions and offers are everywhere, in most cities.
It’s not even the venues fault necessarily, as the laws can be a grey area and certainly aren’t enforced.
Let’s look at some of these laws.
The laws and guidance surrounding drink promotions and drink offers
The actual law differs from country to country, so you need to check exactly what the law states in your region. Governments and councils also offer ‘guidance’ for these laws which can be subjective, so tread carefully.
Some countries are more relaxed than others. If you’re a venue in a region where laws aren’t enforced or even placed, you should still question the responsibility of any drink promotions or drink offers you place.
For example, in the UK venues need to follow ‘Mandatory Licensing Conditions’. These are ‘objectives’ that venues have to comply with:
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- Public safety
- The prevention of public nuisance
- The protection of children from harm
These go into more detail and the ‘2014 Order’ states ‘ensure that staff on relevant premises do not carry out, arrange or participate in any irresponsible promotion, where that promotion is carried on for the purpose of encouraging the sale of alcohol on the premises.’
One example they prohibit is drinking games. And they go into more detail regarding the quantity of alcohol and time limits allowed.
Yet so many bars in the UK offer beer pong as a game that can be played.
Another prohibition is ‘provision of alcohol free or for a fixed or discounted fee’.
Yet so many bars in the UK offer ‘all-you-can-drink’ as a drinks promotion to lure customers in.
In the UK the laws are incredibly subjective and simply aren’t enforced. This doesn’t mean you should risk breaking these laws.
Not only is there an element of risk when you do (you could lose your license), you devalue your brand and it’s simply irresponsible.
There are right ways of offering drink promotions without breaking the law and by being responsible for your local community. These will also improve your brand and keep profits high in the long run.
Why you should be cautious about offering drink promotions or drink offers
They can devalue your brand
The closer your drink promotions get to being within the grey areas of the law the more likely they will devalue your brand.
These sorts of drink offer such as ‘all-you-can-drink’ are cheap and can make your venue appear tacky. Devaluing your brand really isn’t a good idea as it will make all of your other marketing efforts see diminishing results.
You’re much better off either not including drink promotions or drink offers in your marketing plan so you can keep your value high or use them only with class.
They can decrease your profit margins
Running a venue is getting increasingly difficult. Costs are increasing whilst the number of potential customers is decreasing.
It may seem like a good idea to offer drink promotions to get customers into your venue in the first place, but you will be eating into your potential profits in the long run.
You will be paying for the cost of the drink promotions in the short term and long run. It’s a much better idea to try and keep profit margins as high as possible and not use drink promotions at all where you are paying for the difference in costs of the drinks.
If you maintain a healthy profit margin, you will be saving your venue’s brand and not stooping low to do any damage.
By keeping your profit margins high you can re-invest these into other, less risky marketing tactics to make sure your customers are coming inside your venue in high numbers.
You could lose your license
Imagine building up your venue’s brand for years and all of a sudden, an authority takes your hard work away in the form of your license because of a few silly drink promotions.
It may seem unlikely, but you just never know. All it takes is one or two members of an association or council to have had a bad day.
Is it worth the risk?
You’re much better off staying within the laws and guidance offered. Not only will you keep your community safe, you won’t be risking your license and you can keep profit margins high whilst protecting your brand.
Take the time to learn what drink promotions and drink offers you can do; in case you do need them. And always double think as to how they could affect your venue’s brand and image.
There are some drink promotions and drink offer you can offer that will be within the laws and never affect your brand’s image.
How to implement drink promotions and drink offers the right way
The safety of your customers and community should be at the forefront of your thinking when implementing drink promotions and drink offers.
The obvious thing to think about is to make sure that your drink promotions won’t and can’t lead to irresponsible drinking as drunk behaviour is exactly what most laws are trying to prevent.
This is why all-you-can-drink offers are awful for communities as the sole intention is to get as drunk as possible. Stay away from these types of drink promotions.
Here are some ideas of how to offer drink promotions the right way:
There are hundreds of themes that crop up throughout the year. Think St Patrick’s day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.
You can easily offer drink promotions and drink offers in line with certain themes. For example, St Patrick’s Day you could offer a drink promotion on the Guinness you sell.
Can you see how this drink promotion makes complete sense as it’s using a theme rather than just appearing desperate by trying to lure customers in with a standard drink offer.
Bear in mind that in this example, Guinness is probably going to be bought anyway on St Patrick’s Day so you don’t want to miss out on the profit margins you could get here. Instead keep Guinness at the same price you usually would but pair it with another promotion i.e. food.
If your venue serves food, then pairing drink promotions with food promotions is definitely an option.
For example, on Valentine’s Day you could offer a 3-course set menu and a bottle of wine for £50.
By creating packages as part of your promotion you can keep profit margins high as the customer won’t necessarily know the value of each individual item.
This is also a ‘responsible’ promotion as it’s a reasonable amount of alcohol for two people and it’s served with food.
Via loyalty programmes
Loyalty programmes are a great way of getting repeat customers.
You could offer a free drink on every 10th purchase. This can keep your customers coming back and it’s a classy drinks promotion if executed well.
It’s also really easy to implement digital loyalty programmes without spending much money. There is 3rd party software that handles it for you, like Loyaltygator.
All Bar One is a great example of a loyalty programme done right. They have their own app which includes their loyalty programme, but a customer can also make order drinks to their table and pay their bill quickly.
Get your staff involved
There are some drink promotions you can have some real fun with. For example, you could challenge your bar staff to create different drinks and let your customers vote for their favourite.
This is a great drink promotion that will give you tonnes of social media content, motivate your staff and also get your customers more involved in your venue.
Whatever drink promotions or drink offers you decide to promote make sure you ask yourself these questions:
- Are they within the law? If they are subjective or within the grey areas of the laws, it’s probably best to not go with it to stay on the safe side
- How much will this drink promotion eat into my profit margin. Is it worth it?
- Will this drink promotion actually add value to my customers and or get more people in?
- Will my venue’s brand image remain intact and it won’t be judged negatively?
For each promotion you are thinking of running you should score each one of these questions out of 10. The score will give you a good idea as to whether you should run it or not.