1. Rising Confidence
OPUS shows that nine in ten (89%) of consumers now feel very or quite confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants – a big upswing of 23 percentage points since 2021.
2. After-Work Drinks And Big Nights Bounce Back
The reopening of Ireland’s on-premise triggered a wave of celebratory occasions, as consumers caught up on the visits that they had missed during lockdowns. These remain the most popular reason to eat and drink out, but there has been a strong recovery in other occasions, too. More than a quarter (28%) of consumers say that they go out for after-work drinks at least once every quarter – up by ten percentage points, year on year, after a steady return of people to workplaces. Those going out for high-tempo drinks have also risen as Covid concerns ease – by eight percentage points, to 21%.
3. Trust In Brands
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After months of closures in the on-premise, consumers have returned to the drinks brands that they trust. OPUS shows that half (51%) of respondents think that well-known brands are important in their choices, making it a more significant factor than quality (44%), though drinkers retain high expectations that their drink will provide good value for their spend.
4. Room For Trade-Ups
Returning consumers have been ready to treat themselves to more premium options when they go out. Well over half (58%) say that they are likely to pay extra for a better-quality drink, and cocktail drinkers are particularly willing to upgrade.
5. ‘No and Low’ Grows
People’s sharp focus on well-being since the start of the pandemic is translating into a growing appetite for healthy drinks. More than a third (37%) say that they are drinking no- or low-alcohol alternatives more often than they were a year ago. Nearly as many (35%) are buying hard seltzers more frequently, too.
6. Opportunities At Christmas
Rising confidence and the first ‘normal’ Christmas since 2019 mean that December could be a bumper month. More than half (55%) of respondents plan to visit the on-premise over the festive period, and there are opportunities to attract the 27% who are unsure for now. December also brings the football World Cup, and half (51%) of respondents plan to watch games in pubs and bars. For operators and suppliers, balancing their needs with those of Christmas partygoers is going to be crucial.