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What we learned from 2020, a year like no other

Two Chefs Discussing A Menu Change

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard the word ‘unprecedented’ more times in the last 12 months than ever before. While we can’t say that things have returned to any kind of ‘normal’ in 2021 so far, we can at least take a look back at the events of 2020 and use what we’ve learned.

From lockdowns and Eat Out To Help Out to the various reopenings, there's plenty to use to prepare us for what is to come!

Our insight partners at Proof have pulled together a comprehensive report of On Trade Market trends from the past year, based on how and what customers are drinking and trends that can help you win the return to trade and the upcoming summer. Have a look at the full report here or read on for some of the highlights.

Customer Behaviour in 2020

22 million customers across the UK visited venues in July of 2020 alone, which was an increase of 43% on the same time a year earlier. However, with rules dictating that alcohol must be consumed with meals and curfews imposed, the number of drinks sold decreased by 46%. The amount of customers likely to return to trade this year looks like it will be roughly the same as last year. 51% of people saying they will return in the early weeks. Yet with outdoor spaces limited and the weather more variable - we've already had snow in April - Proof predicts that it will take 6 to 10 weeks to get to what feels like a ‘full return’.

While young consumers and ‘revellers’ are the most likely to return to hospitality early on, the over 55s are showing more ‘confidence’ than at the same point in July 2020. This can be attributed to higher rates of vaccination and a shift in mindset that comes from dropping case numbers across the UK. What this demographic wants, according to Proof’s report, is a low tempo experience with 12% more customers citing a ‘relaxed atmosphere' as an important factor when choosing a venue.

Products that won and lost in 2020

The key to getting customers out of their houses and into venues to drink will be offering them experiences and products that they cannot easily recreate at home. Having spent the year drinking wine and canned beer on the couch, customers are ready to explore new and unusual drink trends.

The products that lost out in 2020 include ales, tequila, and, with limited opportunity or reason to celebrate, sparkling wine. On the other hand, the winners were drinks like stout, rums and speciality soft drink mixers. These trends are likely to reverse themselves for reopening in 2021 as customers seek out experiences and products they’ve been missing for most of the last year.

In particular, look out for a bump in sparkling wine as customers make up for a year of missed birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.

Trends that are here to stay

34% of consumers have decreased the amount of alcohol they consumed during 2020 which, although an acceleration, is in line with the trends we saw prior to lockdown. Cutting back is likely to remain a consideration in the future and presents an important opportunity for venues to provide good quality and interesting Low and No alcohol alternatives.

It’s no surprise that working from home is one of the biggest lifestyle changes emerging from the pandemic. 53% of respondents say that post-Covid they will be working from home at least once a week, with 45% saying they would prefer to be at home on a Friday. This amounts to millions fewer people in city or town centres on a Friday evening and reinforces the importance of venues capturing local customers. Those in the inner city could look to shift their focus to Thursday nights as 3 in 10 said that they were more likely to drink mid-week if they were working from home the next day. There is also an opportunity to capture the general desire to support local businesses that has emerged during this challenging year. Businesses that consider and cater to the members of their community could gain a loyal customer base that is keen to see their local venue flourish once again.

Learn more about changing consumer trends, and how we can learn from the lessons of 2020 in the Proof On Trade Market Report. To stock up for the return to trade you can order online with Matthew Clark Live. Register for an online account here or shop from 400 of our most popular products with our guest checkout.

About the author

Gabrielle Hutson

Gab found a love for wine (and spirits and beer and coffee!) during her years on the hospitality scene around Australia. The desire to dip her toes into a bigger wine and hospitality industry drove her to London and today she writes, reads and talks non-stop about wine for Matthew Clark's website and social channels.

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