Pubs are facing stiff competition when it comes to securing the disposable cash of leisure seekers. Mike Berry studies the latest findings of what people want from their pub visits.

Pubs are being seen as increasingly irrelevant to young people with the percentage of 18 to 25-year-olds visiting weekly falling from 42% in 2010 to 36% this year.

Those in the next age demographic (under-35s) — so-called “nesting couples” — are also visiting the pub less often as competition for the leisure pounds heats up.

The findings — revealed in the Carlsberg UK Consumer Insight Report — are indicative of young adults’ relationship with alcohol because they are also much less likely to drink at home than older generations.

The report concludes that the figures show how vital it is for the trade to remain relevant and attractive to the next generation of customers, and the importance of creating new experiences beyond the traditional ‘big night out’.

There are bright spots in the report, based on in-depth interviews with 1,800 pubgoers, exploring their habits and behaviours. Pubs and bars prove particularly appealing to singles between 36 and 54-years-old (those visiting weekly has increased by five percentage points), families (up three points) and those whose children have grown up and left home (up two points).

Average weekly pub visits across all demographics are flat having risen only one percentage point since 2010, demonstrating how the recession has impacted people’s disposable income.

The report also highlights the challenge of encouraging more women to visit the pub. Women visit far less frequently on a weekly basis than men (24% vs 44%), with this lack of regular engagement putting pressure on male visits. When asked what activities would persuade them to visit the pub more frequently, the top three responses from women were quizzes (46%), food nights (43%) and comedy (37%).

As occasions become more treat than habit, the report shows consumers are becoming increasingly demanding around retail standards, with the social aspects of the pub becoming less important. Quality of food, table service and free Wi-Fi are big risers.

Kathryn Purchase, director of customer marketing at Carlsberg UK, says: “Pubs and bars remain central to people’s leisure choices and are by far the favourite out-of-home activity for adults.

“Our research warns the pub is in danger of being less relevant to the next generation. The on-trade visitor is definitely changing and pubs need to be flexible enough to adapt and cater for them.”