10 Trends to Watch for Your Promotions & Marketing Mix

While 2012 proved an interesting year in the nightclub and bar industry, 2013 is certain to bring with it some new ideas that bar owners should be aware of as they embark on planning new menus, promotions or are looking to shake things up. Experts around the industry told Nightclub & Bar their top trends that will soon become a staple at establishments throughout the U.S.

Make sure to keep these trends in mind as you plan your promotions and marketing strategies for 2013.


1. Social media’s importance reigns supreme. The folks at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions emphasize the key role social media will play in marketing initiatives and programs for bars and restaurants. Kaye Raska, senior account executive at PHCP, says “a great resolution for operators in 2013 would be to try to consciously put an effort towards social media and any type of online social initiatives. Operators really need to hit this hard and try to incorporate social media elements into their beverage program, more than ever before.”

2. Be aware of the concept of newness. With patrons becoming savvier, they want the latest and greatest of all things. Stovall says it’s an owners duty to find out what is making customers excited and attracted to a venue in the first place. “The research reconnaissance will help you take a more open-minded view of your own establishment,” he says. “Often we are too close to our facilities and don’t see the age, the dated décor or the tired menu of drinks.”

3. Focus on the women. Vidano says a way to attract female customers is to have a good cider available, as well as a few gluten-free options. 

4. Grapes are the new thing. Duggan McDonnell, founder and master blender at Campo de Encanto Pisco in San Francisco, says grape-based beverages including aperitifs, pisco and classic amaros are something to look out for in 2013. “An abundance of cocktails are being slung with these ingredients and backbar shelves are filling with grape-based selections,” he says. “Grape-based alcohol is hot and will only get hotter as the trend moves out of trendsetting bar programs and into the general bar and restaurant culture.”

5. Get familiar with disco house music. Dave Mitchell, general manager of The Empire Rooftop in New York, says artists from all genres are jumping on this bandwagon, meaning there will be “an exodus away from Top 40 hour and more of the feel good disco hour.” This trend will be a “move away from large arena tours to more intimate nightclub performances where the fans can connect with the performer/group on a smaller scale,” Mitchell adds.

6. Cocktails on tap. Everything from pre-batching cocktails and bottled cocktails will be in the mix in 2013, says Kathy Casey. The president of Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen says these pre-batched cocktails are a far cry from the sweet cocktails of the past that were on a gun or in a bubbler machine. “Today’s pre-batched cocktails and methods are great for keeping things consistent and are being crafted with high-quality ingredients,” she says, adding that “larger bottled cocktail format is a unique alternative to nightclub bottle service and the options are endless.”

7. Keep an eye on craft spirits. Though growing in popularity, more and more consumers want their cocktails to tell a story. Adam Seger, celebrated mixologist and co-founder of hum spirits, says the craft and local libation industry is only growing. “This is a trend that is not going away. Anyone can have a backbar with all the usual suspects but not every bar can have a well-curated backbar with interesting craft spirits.”

8. While updating your backbar, remember that retro is cool again. Experts agreed that focusing on artisanal spirits will not go away in 2013. “You’ll find more mid-20s customers ordering a Manhattan, Whiskey Sour, Tom Collins and Old Fashioned,” Dr. Steven Austin Stovall, associate professor of management at Wilmington College, says. “Shows like ‘Mad Men’ have educated your youngest customers on popular drinks of the past. Make sure your bar team knows how to make these and promote them in your facility,” he explains.

9. Better beer is here. Venues need to adjust their mix or they’re already behind the trends, warns Mark Vidano, VP of operations for MarkeTeam Inc. This trend, he says, will evolve to include beer cocktails, as well. “Having a good beer list eliminates the veto vote and provides a nice, easy upcharge.”

10. Upgrade your vermouth. While thinking about how to make drinks taste the best, Seger says that with an increasing demand for Manhattans and other vintage cocktails, “upgrading your vermouth is a must.”


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