Happy Hour is an initiative to build sales during slow or off peak periods. The new Happy Hour promotions are not limited to the after work crowd. There is a movement to take advantage of late night happy hours to leverage the growing millennial base of young adults ages 21-39. A typical late night happy hour runs from 9 or 10 PM to midnight or close. Millennials are a target demographic because they are the most experimental with new drink flavors and they are the largest spenders in the casual dining market.
An effective happy hour promotion uses creative point of purchase (POP) marketing such as colorful posters, menu inserts and table-top material that call out Happy Hour specials. Social media platforms that promote Happy Hours and engage customers can also provide a competitive advantage.
The best Happy Hour promotions stick to these rules:
- Focus on a single promotional message.
- Focus on a few great offers that capitalize on trends in beer, wine and spirits.
- Be sure your drink and food specials earn you money. Don’t reduce prices that result in a loss or break-even point rather than profits.
- Focus promotions on popular brands and top moving spirits. Craft beers and IPA’s are the hottest brews. Be sure to inquire with your servers and bartenders about what customers are asking for most.
- Feature mainstream wine varieties with basic, easy to understand descriptions. Think Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Malbecs for your reds and Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay for your whites.
- Promote your food, especially hand-held and sharable items. Suggest cocktail or beer pairings for your bar food offerings. Consider offering “flights” of beverages and appetizers.
Be sure to staff your bar to pass a Bar Rescue style “stress test.” Your staff is key. Insure your team members are trained on all promotions and know your food and drink menu. They are your most important point of sale marketing. Hands-on taste testing by your servers is the best way to generate passionate genuine recommendations for your drink and food menu items. The difference between actual tasting and simple regurgitation of the “company line” can’t be underestimated. A small investment comes with big rewards on your bottom line.