Signage and marketing ideas for pubs and bars
Discover simple ways to bring in more patrons and increase the average order value (AOV) at your bar, by following the tips in this short guide. Alcohol sales have always been a big business in the UK, with more than half of surveyed Brits drinking outside the home at least once per week . To get noticed in a saturated market, ensure you've got the best bar displays, pub signage and supplies to help you stand out and sell more.
Pub and bar promotion ideas - how to upsell alcohol
If you're wondering how to upsell alcohol, there are tons of pub and bar promotion ideas that are proven to increase bar sales.
A study into how pubs, bars and nightclubs increase alcohol sales found that the most effective bar promotion ideas were: alcohol advertising methods (which included posters and digital screens), special offers with multi-purchase promotions (including Happy Hours and ‘all you can drink’ specials), and ‘speed drinking devices (e.g. shot glasses, ‘beer bongs’ and large pitchers)’ .
Make sure you promote offers and events as much as possible throughout your business, with a mix of screens, posters, and tabletop bar signs. The Pubs, Bars and Clubs Handbook recommends the use of ‘internal marketing devices’ such as 'tent cards or other point-of-sale (POS) material, [such as] posters [and] menu cards’ .
Other pub and bar promotion ideas include hosting entertainment, seasonal specials, theme nights, and games such as darts and pool.
Always be incredibly careful with your advertising, however, as you must ensure you adhere to local laws surrounding the promotion of alcohol, and not encourage drinking to excess . While promotions such as drinking games and multi-buy discounts are proven to be effective at increasing order size, they tend to promote unhealthy behaviour, and must not be explicitly encouraged.
Also, choose your promotions carefully based on the demographic of your customers. If you operate a family-friendly pub which is frequented by older patrons, then you may wish to focus more on food specials and multi-buy promotions, rather than organizing rowdy activities or noisy entertainment, which may be better suited to younger patrons.
Increase bar sales with pub signs and bar signs
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But what are the most effective marketing ideas for pubs and bars?
A 2015 article claimed that ‘POS promotions may serve to increase purchase volume’. They found that price-related POS promotions were the most effective at increasing AOV in bars, also citing that ‘alcohol consumption was more than doubled during simulated ‘happy hours’’ . So, on your marketing materials, ensure you emphasise any price-point based information such as the potential savings made by multi-buy discounts.
Once you've generated some bar ideas to encourage spending, you should ask yourself what the right advertising type is for your venue. To bring in new customers, you ought to focus on outdoor advertising.
Pavement signs are always popular for hospitality venues, and there are a large range of designs to suit your branding and décor. Use rustic wooden framed chalkboards for daytime use and family-friendly pubs, or choose an LED pavement sign for nightclubs and bars in order to stand out in the evenings.
If you serve food, or have a unique drinks menu, an illuminated menu board is a great way to entice curious passersby to enter. Illuminated ‘open’ signs, or scrolling digital messages are some of the best ways to stand out and attract attention to your venue, even in the dark.
How to increase bar sales with add-on purchases
A great way to increase AOV is to promote bar food and pub snacks. One survey found that 55.9% people carried out ‘spontaneous drunk purchases in 2019’, with the most commonly-bought item being food (‘with 50% of Brits forking out on food while drunk’) . Another study also showed that ‘as the number of alcoholic drinks consumed increases, the amount of impulse purchases made will also increase’ .
While pub and bar owners don't want to unethically take advantage of their drunk patrons, this intoxicated impulse buying is going to be taking place anyway - the sensible thing to do is to encourage them to stay in your business and satisfy their spending urges there! It's only natural that people will become hungry after a few drinks so, if you serve food, ensure you advertise this in multiple areas, using both wall-mounted and tabletop menu holders. If you don't serve meals, make sure your customers have the option to add some pub bar snacks to their order. You can cram in more options to your bar displays using pub snacks on cards and crisp display clips.
The Bartender and Server Workbook states that ‘offering food and encouraging food consumption is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent intoxication’ . Therefore, ensuring that drinkers have food readily available to buy should also help to make things safer for everybody. Why not increase both your revenue and your customer and staff safety, all at the same time?
POS for pubs and bars
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One area that has seen a gradual increase in interest in recent years is the low or no-alcohol market, with more and more customers opting out of drinking culture. Recent market research from 2021 has demonstrated that the sales of no- and low-alcohol in supermarkets have soared by 51.4% in the past year alone .
Make sure your bar is attractive and accommodating for those who can't, or don't want to, drink alcohol. Offer enticing non-alcoholic drinks such as elaborate cocktails without the booze.
Advertise these clearly around your venue using wall mounted poster holders and tabletop signage, to make customers aware of these options. Distribute leaflets with your no-alcohol menu to drum up interest.
For many people, pubs, bars and nightclubs are much more than simply places to get drunk. They can be places that provide valuable social interaction and improve wellbeing.
One paper suggested that pubs offer a hospitable atmosphere, making them important places for enabling social relationships . Another study claimed that alcohol consumption can actually enhance psychological wellbeing .
Be sure to emphasise the importance of your business as a social hub for bringing people together, to share food, drinks and experiences. Make this integral to your branding, marketing, and venue atmosphere with the careful use of décor and display signage for pubs, clubs and bars
Essential bar promotion supplies
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2. Sébastien Tutenges, Frederik Bøhling, ‘Designing drunkenness: How pubs, bars and nightclubs increase alcohol sales’, International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 70 (August 2019), pp. 15-21 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.04.009 [accessed 16th June 2021].
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7. Kerrigan, C.J., ‘Investigating the Effects That Alcohol Consumption has on the Impulse Buying Behaviors of College Students’ (Honors thesis, Georgia Southern University, 2017).
8. Mark Willingham, The Bartender and Server Workbook, Volume 7 (Jacksonville: Alcohol Solutions LLC, 2015).
9. Rob Brown, ‘The new puritans: low & no alcohol category report 2021’, The Grocer (9th April 2021), https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/category-reports/the-new-puritans-low-and-no-alcohol-category-report-2021/654978.article [accessed 17th June 2021].
10. Thomas Thurnell-Read, ‘‘If they weren’t in the Pub, they Probably wouldn’t Even Know each Other’: Alcohol, Sociability and Pub Based Leisure’’, International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure (2021) 4:61–78, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs41978-020-00068-x [accessed 16th June 2021].
11. R. I. M. Dunbar et al, ‘Functional Benefits of (Modest) Alcohol Consumption’, Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology (2017) 3:118–133 [accessed 16th June 2021].