The experience-hungry consumer

There’s been lots of talk over the last year or so about the ‘experience economy’. I’m not usually one to go for buzzwords like this, but I actually think there’s something in it for food and drink.

We’re seeing lots of mixed messages in the media. Take alcohol for example. A glass of wine a day is either good or bad for you, depending on what you read.

But food and drink is a part of everyday life.  And that’s what people are homing in on – focussing on quality over quantity, and looking for experiences.

So how to keep customers happy in the experience era?

Find new flavours

Offer them choice. Consumers are better informed than they’ve ever been, and a straight-up gin and tonic won’t cut it anymore. They’ve got views on which gin they want to try, and on which tonic to pair it with.

It’s the same with beer. People want a draught pint, and preferably a craft one at that.  Choosing and tasting the drink is part of the experience.

This is one of the reasons our range of premium tonics, mixers and soft drinks, Franklin & Sons, is proving so popular. People can try new flavours like Wild Strawberry & Scottish Raspberry with Cracked Black Pepper, which become a talking point around the table.

Know your stuff

Provenance and heritage is big business and it brings the experience to life. People want to learn new things. This might be finding out why certain flavours work together, discovering how a drink is made or why it pairs well with a certain food,

The good news is that brands are here to help. We’ve created crib sheets containing educational and interesting information about Franklin & Sons. Wowing customers with a few facts enhances their experience and means they’re more likely to come again.

Invest in your place

Standards haven’t just gone up where the menu is concerned. Consumers want the whole package – think about live music, themed evenings and entertainment.

Ask yourself how you can do better, without losing your identity. It’s all about experiences, and you want yours to stand out and be memorable.

For me, eating and drinking is fundamental to British culture, and exciting times are ahead.  It’s time for brands, restaurants, bars and pubs to up their game and deliver the experiences consumers want.

Steve Perez, chairman of drinks company Global Brands and owner of Casa Hotel and Peak Edge Hotel

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