Insights: Drink Order Influencers a Re-Ordered

Indecisive guests represent significant opportunity, and nowhere is that opportunity greater than at the bar, where 69 percent of guests walk in not knowing what they want to drink. That figure goes up as the guest age goes down, and the sample skews more female, according to Mike Ginley of Next Level Marketing, a beverage market research firm. Ginley presented recent consumer survey data during the NRA Show in Chicago in May.

What’s most important in influencing drink choice? Well, thanks to the economy, the list is not the same as it was just a year or two ago. While the drink menu remains the number one influencer, the drink’s compatibility with the food being ordered shot up to the number two spot in the online survey, replacing the bartender, which fell to number seven. The house specialty ranked third, and promotions came in at number 4. Drinks listed on the food menu and recommendation of family members or friends came in at numbers 5 and 6, respectively.

Top 10 Drink Order Influencers

The rise in the importance of food is likely because Americans have reduced the number of drinks they’re consuming while in a bar or restaurant as a way to curb spending, Ginley said. “What’s concerning is that the bartender seems to have less impact,” he noted. “This indicates a need for greater training. The bartender is probably the most powerful sales tool there is for drinks, but our survey showed guests are turning to the bartender less now.”

That may also be the result of aggressive pricing promotion, such as the Gold Coast Margarita offered at Outback for $3.50; it had been priced at $6 or so for many years. “The guest is now trained to go for the deal, so perhaps they don’t need the bartender quite as much,” said Ginley. He also indicated that people will return to ordering more cocktails per visit and explore new drinks and spirits as the economy improves.

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