Alcohol consumption declining but wine, craft beer sales up: NPD Group

Canadian Pizza
July 21, 2015
By Canadian Pizza
Chicago – Although alcoholic beverage servings in Canadian restaurants have declined by one per cent per year since 2010, craft beer and wine servings are up, according to the NPD Group, whose latest report offers strategies for upselling.

“The beverage menu is often overlooked by consumers in an effort to minimize their cheque size,” said Robert Carter, executive director at The NPD Group. “As a result operators are constantly seeking out innovative strategies to add value to the dining experience and to encourage higher-margin beverage sales.”

The NPD Group’s CREST Monitor report identified several strategies to increase consumption.These strategies include offering specials, pairings, and customized recommendations. When The NPD Group asked customers what usually triggers their alcoholic beverage choices, 20 per cent of beer drinkers said “special deals,” which often involves a discounted price. For wine customers, 23 per cent say “pairing with another item” triggered their purchase, adding value by elevating the dining experience.

Interestingly, only three out of 10 beer customers automatically reach for their favourite brand when raising a pint, leaving 70 per cent to make a choice every time they visit.

Beer, which is Canada’s most popular alcoholic beverage, has declined by six per cent this year while cocktails and other drinks were down by 10 per cent.

However, not all categories are feeling the same pinch. Craft beer servings have experienced strong growth of seven per cent year over year. Furthermore, craft and microbrew beer now account for 17 per cent of all beer at casual dining restaurants.

Consumers are also turning to wine much more often, as servings in this category have grown by 16 per cent year over year.

“These declining consumption levels are certainly a challenge for restaurant operators,” Carter said. “Being aware of consumer trends, and then acting on them can make the difference between turning a profit and having to close your doors.”

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