According to the latest report from the British Beer and Pub Association pub closures are now nearing an average of six a day. It is therefore more important than ever for pubs to understand customers within their local catchment areas and adapt accordingly. Customer insight specialist Cartogen (www.cartogen.co.uk) is launching a service to help pubs understand local populations to identify and exploit opportunities. Cartogen’s location analysis is effective and affordable, making it accessible to smaller independents as well as the large chains.
New figures show that nearly 2,000 pubs closed their doors permanently in 2008, up from 1,400 in 2007. The factors behind the current problems are well documented. Cheap supermarket alcohol, the smoking ban, higher alcohol duties, two consecutive years of poor summer weather and the economic downturn have combined to make trading very difficult, with beer sales at their lowest for 70 years.
Cartogen, which has worked with the Laurel and Charles Wells Pub Companies, uses a postcode based classification system to help pubs understand the types of customer living within local areas. Cartogen is able to give clients a clear indication of the numbers and mix of customer types within any particular catchment, including their behaviour and purchasing habits.
Usual demographic data such as age, sex, ethnicity, family structure, employment status and housing type can be provided. In addition, information on lifestyle and behavioural aspects such as leisure activities, holiday destinations, purchasing activities, newspapers and magazines read, television watched and Internet used can all be identified.
Cartogen’s Managing Director, Stephen Kennedy said, “A greater understanding of the types of people living within the local area can be crucial to developing a suitable strategy for retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. By using the same information available to larger companies, independents can compete on a level playing field”.
Improved local knowledge can help to develop additional products or services in support of the regular pub offering, from gastro food to board games. According to The Guardian there are 350 village pubs that are also shops or post offices, cook school meals, or provide IT training. Despite difficult trading opportunities do exist in the market, the Society of Independent Brewers reporting an 11% increase in sales at the same time as Stella Atrois’s sales dropped by 10%. Adopting the right strategy is becoming increasingly crucial not just to success but to maintaining survival. The more pubs know about local customers the better they will be able to serve them effectively.
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Notes: Cartogen was launched two years ago and is based in Brighton. It is headed by Stephen Kennedy whose background has been with a number of large retailers including Superdrug and Shell UK. Its client list includes the Laurel and Charles Wells Pub Companies.