ZAG Drinks is an exciting and innovative non-alcoholic drink company that is pioneering a new drinks category; Social Softs – soft drinks designed for adult drinking occasions. Here, they provide their top five tips for successfully integrating a strong soft drinks menu into your venue.
RECOGNISE HOW ADULT SOFT DRINKS DRIVE FOOTFALL
Don’t measure sales success on your soft drink sales alone. Non-drinkers are often the decision makers in a group who will sway the choice of venue (often based on the non-alcoholic options available) for the evening, bringing with them the high spending drinkers.
A way to think of it is comparing this to including vegetarian meals in your restaurant. The decision on how to treat non-drinkers – a lower revenue minority – is analogous to the vegetarian offer in a meat-focused restaurant. Those avoiding alcohol in a mixed social group may determine the venue for the whole group, because drinkers are well catered for in all hospitality venues, while non-drinkers are often not.
OFFER AN EXCITING AND VARIED SOFTS MENU
Non-drinkers are not choosing alcohol – so why put alcohol free beer in the beer section of the menu? Have a specific non-alcoholic drinks menu with a wide variety of interesting options and champion the exciting 0% ABV choices available: alcohol free beer, alcohol free spirits, soft drinks, mocktails and innovative new products that transcend traditional category boundaries like ZAG.
By offering choice, non-drinkers get to enjoy a similar excitement over their next round as drinkers.
UNDERSTAND THE NON-DRINKING CUSTOMER
Consider why your customers might not be drinking. Will traditional sweet, soft drinks or high-sugar mocktails appeal to those not drinking for health reasons? Are adults socialising with drinkers happy drinking childlike soft drinks?
Many drinkers find alcoholic-replicas with the alcohol removed disappointing when compared to ‘the real thing’. A wide variety of options on a non-alcoholic drinks menu – offering something for everyone – will show you have thought about and care about your non-drinking customers.
CONSIDER THE CUSTOMER’S USAGE OCCASION
Traditional, sweet soft drinks often don’t pair well with food, so think about offering a less sweet, more complex and palate-cleansing option for non-drinking diners. For non-drinkers within a group of drinkers, look for soft drinks with ‘grown-up presentation’ such as ZAG; a soft drink presented in a beer bottle. High-sugar soft drinks can often only be drunk in small quantity, so offering something less sweet and more sessionable should equate to higher rate of sale.
TRAIN YOUR STAFF
There’s nothing worse for non-drinkers than feeling like an afterthought. Make sure your staff have tried the non-alcoholic range and understand the different options available – which pair best with food? Which are the lowest sugar, lowest calorie, most unusual, most refreshing? Non-drinkers often ask bar staff for advice as they find the non-alcoholic market confusing or, in many cases, not offering what they want.