Beer-related Promotions a Necessary Evil

Depending on the type of bar you run, beer promotions can be a necessary evil. They bring in crowds and help differentiate you amongst competition on a particular night. “Dollar Draft Wednesdays,” etc. reach far beyond college bar scene. So can these gimmicks be profitable? Bob Zannella, General Sales Manager for C&C Distributing in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, and Brian Casse, co-founder of I Drink Good Beer and advocate to the craft beer industry, sat down with Nightclub & Bar to go over the good, the bad and the ugly of beer-related promotions.

Craft Beer Promotions

Tips to Avoid Common Beer Promo Missteps: 

Don’t forget about the profit. “Retailers should be wise when discounting and make sure they are not giving all the profit away,” warns Zannella. “Remember, the only reason to discount heavily is to get consumers in to buy something that you can make your normal profit on so be smart and don’t give the store away when offering reduced prices on drinks.”

Beware of the fake ID. “The real cheap beer nights have a tendency to draw young crowd so checking ID’s faithfully is important,” Zannella advises. “Serving underage customers can only cause problems in the long run.”

Limit promos to a few items only. Zannella reminds us that beer related promos are intended to be tactics that bars use to get the consumers in by selling one brand at a steep discount in hopes they purchase other things while they are there like appetizers, shots, etc. “The key to success is to limit the discounted items so you can profit on the full price items.”

Beer-related Promos that Work and Why:

Happy hours exist for a reason. Casse suggests a happy hour where the customer gets a lot of value for the beer he or she is paying for. “HOPS, a recently opened bar in Morristown, New Jersey, offers any pint of beer during the weekdays for $4.”

Beer plus food equals success. So how could you go wrong with wing night? “What guy doesn’t like wings and beer?” asks Zannella. “Wing nights are a great attraction for the guy that wants to have a few beers and satisfy his hunger. Some retailers have a tendency to discount many beers and the wings. Whenever reducing the price, the retailer should make sure he is not giving too much profit away. It doesn’t do any good to sell too much product at little profit. My suggestion is to again just reduce a few beers for any given period of time.”

Casse has seen strong results year over year at the chili cook-off that Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA holds each winter for its employees. “It brings in a huge crowd, and those people are buying beers, food, and even merchandise. There is no doubt that the brewery is well stimulated for the day.”

Craft beers can be discounted too! So it seems profitable to deeply discount big brand beers. But perhaps it’s important to focus on another subset of beer drinkers – the craft beer drinkers. They may have more sophisticated pallets, but their wallets aren’t necessarily any larger. Zannella has observes that many bars offer a wide array of craft beers due to the growing appeal to beer drinkers of all ages. “Consumers are used to paying a premium for them so discounting is less of an issue. But for the retailer that wants to offer a discounted craft beer that has full body to satisfy the price conscious consumer, there are many options. Kegs of beers such as Killian’s Red, Yeungling and Honey Brown are priced about the same as a Budweiser and Coors so retailers can offer a reasonable price balance.”

Football, football, football. It’s a no-brainer and can help transform a bar’s Monday sales during football season. Zannella suggests creating a season pass that rewards loyal consumers that show up every Monday night for Monday Night Football. “There are a lot of bars fighting for a limited consumer base so a few discounts and some prizes can make a difference. The best promo we’ve ever done for MNF was at a Hooters. Consumers were given a season pass on the first night and if they showed up every week they received additional prizes and complimentary food items later in the season.”


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