Blonnie Whist, insight director at Lumina Intelligence, examines how evolved iterations of the Italian aperitivo are driving sales, from value pubs to the more premium

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Here’s a £69bn question: which segment makes up the largest value of the eating out market, but has seen the slowest recovery since 2019? If you answered the on-trade (including pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels) you would be correct. Total sales are expected to be just +2.8% in front of 2019 levels in 2022 despite inflation nearing double figures.

The biggest factor behind this slow recovery is the cost of living crisis and inflation impacting consumer confidence and spend in the market. Continued outlet decline and dampened consumer confidence will also impact growth in the segment.

And consumers are becoming more price led. In our panel data we can drill down into behaviour, demographics and also psychographics. Here we are looking at the values and believes that we can use to group consumers by their core principles. These don’t change often but we have seen a notable shift towards more price led behaviour, increasing by 2 percentage points (ppts).

What this means for the market is that boosting spend per head is the key metric that matters. We will explore the key opportunities in the market that make this more likely.

Pubs and bars are leading the way for price increases over the last quarter as the average price per drink listing nudges the higher end of £7 (Menu Tracker, May 2022). This is likely the start of major market movement and we expect to see prices increases across all channels and continue in pubs and bars for the next year.

A piece of positive news is that the share of dine in on-premise is increasing. Dine-in has reached its highest point at almost 75% since November 2020, with delivery falling to its lowest share since the pandemic in May 2022. Delivery has managed to remain relatively stable since August last year, with a slight peak during winter.

When consumers are on premise, they are choosing both food and drink. Occasions that include both food and drink have dominated the eating/drinking out market in the 12 weeks to 15 May, up by +1ppt. This is another key metric that doesn’t change very often, but it is very promising that the direction of drinks with food is up.

Alcoholic drinks will have a significant role to play in the recovery of the on trade and boosting average consumer spend. When we look at the changes in alcohol drinks over the last six months, we can see that it’s alcoholic drinks which are pulling away from non-alcoholic drinks in the total market. Alcoholic drinks are increasing share of occasions by +1ppt in the latest the 12 weeks to 15 May, driven by sporting events and consumers opting for more pub visits.

Spirits hold the top spot for most drinks consumed per occasion and that gap is widening as we enter the summer months (+4% in the last 12 weeks). Additionally, spirits have seen a healthy increase in average spend of 10 ppt. One of the drivers for this, and one of the “must list” cocktails of the summer is the new wave spritz.

We are all familiar with the pub favourite of Aperol spritz. Over one in four pub brands in menu tracker now sell an Aperol spritz with prices ranging from £8.75 at all bar one and just £4.99 at Harvester. We are now seeing this trend morph into something novel. Spearheaded by the off trade, where we have seen launches like Malibu spritz, Chandon premium garden spritz and Lyre non-alcoholic spritz, we are seeing this trend grow out of me-too products and into new territory.

We have seen strong examples from Brewers Fayre and Greene King which signpost a trend for core value-led estates now devoting entire sections to spritz. We are also seeing this at more premium pubs like the DeBeauvoir Arms, with a more grown up Campari spritz.

These are great examples of added value and premiumisation that are sure to be a big summer hit.