The on-trade is a tough market. Even during summer, Christmas and other strong spending seasons, succeeding in this highly competitive industry is only possible for those who are up for the fight. When it comes to the quieter periods of the year, that fight often becomes an epic bout for survival, with operators across the land doing whatever they can to attract customers who have deemed the pub a ‘no-go zone’. Honestly, what nonsense!
What can’t be helping matters are the various campaigns that, albeit unintentionally, are deterring people from heading out to pubs and bars during these times – Go Sober For October, No Alcohol November and Dry January are adding that little bit more reason for people not to enjoy their time socialising in your wonderful outlets. What we need are more pub-related month puns! Ginuary is one. Or how about Graperil for all the wine buffs out there? Novembeer is crying out for some action, surely? Hmm… perhaps. However, there is one campaign to combat the quieter times that has caused a stir and a shake behind the bars of UK venues over the past few years, and that is Try January.
Readers may be aware of the previous coverage that Pub & Bar has given this initiative over the past few years, but for those who aren’t, let’s recap. Try January is there to help you market your venues and bring in decent sales through what is, ironically, the most trying month of the year. Whether you’re encouraging guests to have that meal they wouldn’t usually opt for, or take on a mocktail as opposed to its boozy cousin, the point is to inspire people to change things up and go for something different, rather than abstain from the pub altogether. There’s no denying it, Try January and the #TryJanuary hashtag has helped the on-trade drum up some activity during the first month of previous years, but there has been one obvious limitation – it has all been a little bit too late, too impulsive. Just like any activation in this business, in order to fully utilise Try January, outlets need to plan in advance to see the best results.
So what are we going to do about it?
Pub & Bar is helping its readers take action with a full-blown, five-issue-strong Try January campaign. That’s right, we’re heading out on the campaign Tryail and we’re taking you with us. Over the next 12 weeks, you can read all about how to combat the January lull through the pages of Pub & Bar, as well as online at pubandbar.com. We’ll be looking at key food and drink to stock that will appeal to those potential pub goers on a health kick. There will be hints and tips on specific events and dedicated Twitter and Instagram coverage, as well as evidence of successful Try January activities that operators around the country are rolling out. Hopefully, by the time January comes around, you’ll be ready and waiting to entice customers through your doors and increase their spend once they’re there through a planned and properly executed Try January strategy.
For the good of the trade
While Pub & Bar remains a positive and supportive showcase for what the industry is achieving, we know the realities that operators face – the predictions for 2018 suggest that next year will be tougher than ever, and that operators need as much reinforcement as possible. This is our cause. Through Try January, we want to offer you as many ideas and as much inspiration as possible in order to face down that beginning-of-the-year lull and sing it a lull-a-bye.
To get things started, operators should be thinking about what absent guests are doing as an alternative to pub visits in January. If they’re staying at home watching Netflix, why not put on a movie night? If they’re heading to the gym on a Saturday evening, then start mixing up some protein shakes! These ideas don’t have to come from the top either – encourage your teams to get their thinking hats on before the Christmas rush about how to retain custom in the new year. Each outlet has its own individuality, but now is the time to get planning for what could be your most diverse and creative month of the year. Go on, give it a Try.