While 63pc of Irish pub goers visit their local less frequently than they used to, 86pc said they would go more often if pubs offered features like free Wifi and better food and entertainment, according to a new survey commissioned by Molson Coors.

Asked what they want from their local pub that they’re not currently getting, 36pc of those polled said free WiFi, 35pc would like live music entertainment, 29.8pc want better food, 27.8pc called for better toilets, 26.6pc would like a shuttle bus service laid on, 23.4pc would like outdoor heating, 21.6pc would like live comedy, 20.6pc want to test their knowledge in a pub quiz, 14.6pc want their own dedicated smoking area, 10pc would like to join a pub sports team, and 7.6pc would be happier if their local provided social network feeds. Sixty-five percent called for cheaper drinks.

“Everyone knows the pub industry has been in steep decline for some time now,” said Niall Phelan, country manager, Molson Coors Ireland. “We conducted this research so we could help publicans identify what their customers are looking for, and as a means to help address and improve some of the issues the industry is currently facing.While price is typically a barrier to growth in a stagnant economy, the research illustrates that by offering value added services like free WiFi, entertainment and better food and facilties, pubs can meet customer expectations and attract footfall without actually resorting to ongoing price reductions.”

Off the back of the research findings, Molson Coors said its lager brand Carling will make available a €150,000 fundthat will be used to help pubs implement changes identified in the research that would positively impact their business and the consumer experience, with more details of this to be announced shortly.

According to the Molson Coors research, 63pc of pub goers visit their local less than they did two years ago: 30.8pc said they go a little less, and 31.8pc, a lot less. Thirty-three percent of the people surveyed go to the pub once a week, 11pc every few days, 14.2pc fortnightly, and 13.8pc once a month.

The study reveals that 45.9pc drink more at home than they used to two years ago. The top reason (57pc) was less disposable income, while 49.6pc said the price of food and drink puts them off, 22pc said family commitments have forced a change and 19.6pc said their friends don’t go as much which impacts their own frequency/

The study also surveyed publicans and found that the majority are pessimistic about the industry outlook over the next five years with 52pc describing it as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Despite seeing the outlook for the pub industry in general being seen as difficult, most respondents are more optimistic about the outlook for their own pubs with 42pc seeing it as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ versus just 25pc who have a negative perspective..

Two thirds (66pc) of pubs surveyed said their sales figures decreased either a little or a lot over the past two years. Just 13pc saw sales figures increase. Rural pubs and village pubs suffered the greatest drop in sales with 75pc and 76pc respectively recording a decrease. In contrast a little under half (49pc) of pubs surveyed in Northern Ireland say their sales have decreased in the past two years while almost a third (31pc) have seen sales increase.

Meanwhile, 61pc of respondents said they had invested significantly in developing, extending and refurbishing their pub during the past five years. Of these, 73pc invested up to €500k and 80pc believe the decision to invest has been worthwhile.

Publicans also reported a range of initiatives implemented to boost sales in the recent past including online and offline advertising and marketing, live entertainment, sports’ broadcasting, food, staff training, beer festivals, reviewing the range of drinks offered and stocking of craft beers. Seventy-three percent of those who made changes believe that they had a sustained positive impact on sales.

Source: businessandleadership.com