The first on-trade wine report by Crown Cellars, the specialist wine and spirits division of Carlsberg UK, is a must read for anyone tasked with providing a credible, never mind quality wine offer, for its customers. It reveals pubs and bars of all standards need to raise their game to meet their disappointed customers’ expectations.
Whilst the on-trade thinks it is a doing a good job with wine it is a very different picture when you ask their customers, reveals new Crown Cellars report.
Anyone who has had to do a work appraisal where you are asked to assess how well you think you have done, and then see what other people say about you, will be able to relate to new research released by Carlsberg’s specialists wine and spirits division, Crown Cellars.
It makes for pretty painful reading for operators right across the UK on-trade. Crown Cellars’ first ever “Future of Wine in the On-trade” report reveals, quite brutally, how far adrift pubs and bars are in the kind of wine service they think they are offering their customers, compared to the quality of service those same customers actually think they are receiving.
The report’s findings are largely based on a mirror survey where 1,014 wine drinkers and 516 owners or bars, pubs and licensed premises were asked the same questions about the wine service they were either receiving or giving.
In only two of the 14 areas, covering everything from the wine offer, the range, pricing and advice, did the customer’s experience surpass what the on-trade owner thought they were delivering. In the other 12, customers felt mostly let down, with the owner blissfully unaware there was any problem at all.
So, for example, whilst 61% of the on-trade think the quality of wine being sold has gone up in recent years, only just over a third (35%) of paying customers agree.
It is important to stress that these on-trade operators were not all your city centre or suburban wet-led pubs, but carefully selected to give a full and fair cross section of the UK on-trade from mainstream to premium bars and pubs.
Who was surveyed?
The outlets were broken down as: 67% independent; 22% leased; and 11% managed. With a good regional spread, covering 35% in the south, 39% in the midlands and 26% across the north of the country.
The consumers were all pre-determined wine drinkers split 45% male, 55% female with again a good nationwide reach with 32% in the south, 34% in the midlands and 34% in the north.
Of particular concern is the lack of apparent awareness about how well pubs and bars are helping their customers make the right wine choices. Whilst 43% of the on-trade thought their staff were equipped to give good help and advice, only 14% of customers agreed.
Again 42% of on-trade operators surveyed thought their wines were well served and presented, but only 24% of wine drinkers did.
Nearly half (49%) of the on-trade think they have a good range of wines with different grape varieties. Compared to 29% of their customers.
What customers want
But it is also how the wine is being served that pub and bar operators are out of touch with what their customers want. Some 88% of the on-trade believe they are serving white wine at the right temperature, but only a half (51%) of customers do. With 39% complaining their white wines are served too warm.
The wines by the glass offer is still very much a bone of contention for consumers. For whilst nearly half of the on-trade (48%) think they have got their numbers right, only 27% of their customers agree with them.
The inspiration for carrying out such a revealing mirror report came from a similar study that Carlsberg did to assess the performance of its beers, said Kevin Paterson, Carlsberg’s marketing manager for wines, spirits and soft drinks.
Other key findings
The report goes on to reveal other worrying areas where it seems wine buying decisions are being made based more on personal preference than facts, data and knowledge of what consumers want to drink.
Whilst Crown Cellars’ report shows the three biggest white wine varietals are Chardonnay first followed by Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Its research found that 17% did not stock a Chardonnay and 11% had no Sauvignon Blanc.
The situation is just as revealing with red wines with 14% of outlets not stocking a Shiraz and 17% snubbing Cabernet Sauvignon, even thought they are the second and third most popular red grape varieties behind Merlot.
Now the coolest, hippest wine bars can probably get away with not offering a wine list and rely on the expertise of their staff, but it is doubtful the 41% of wet-led pubs who choose not to have one can afford it.
Never mind the 28% of pubs who don’t think wine training is important.
- Read the second part of our review of the new Crown Cellars’ report which looks at why customers above and below the age of 30 need to be treated very differently.