More than half (54%) of pub customers would visit a pub more often if it provided additional food occasions, and 20% would stay longer, new research from him! suggests.

The Future of Pubs 2014 research, compiled for the Future Pub Conference, also highlighted a significant difference between what customers and publicans think will be the key food trends over the next 12 months.

The research found that 30% of 25 to 44 year-olds, the group most likely to have young children, would visit pubs more often if they were more child and mother-friendly. Many publicans are aware of this trend, with 35% of the 150 surveyed at random believing that making pubs more child and mother-friendly would drive more midweek sales.

Him! also highlighted research that found 33% of customers would not return to pub where they had been served a bad cup of coffee.

Ed Sibley, senior client manager at him!, stressed the importance of a great coffee offer, combined with meal occasions at different times of day, if pubs are to look “outside the core customers base to families and mothers with kids”.

The him! study found that a similar proportion of publicans and customers predicted that locally source food would be a big trend in the next 12 months (45% and 49%).

However, Sibley highlighted the gap that exists between expectations around the importance of trends such as homemade (33% for publicans against 50% for customers), British (21% against 47%), fresh (11% against 47%), healthy (9% against 38%), organic (1% against 17%) and premium (9% against 18%).

Sibley said: “There’s plenty of opportunity to move beyond the locally sourced message into other quite defined messaging.”

Meanwhile, 32% of pub owners said they would focus on improving their food offer in the next year.

The research also highlighted a feeling of pessimism among pub operators for their long term prospects. While 75% believe their pub will be in business in one year’s time, just 44% believe they will definitely be trading in five years.

The top concern for publicans is rising costs (37%) followed by competition from the off-trade (27%).