In a world where we are told that we have unlimited choices, it seems strange to think that we need to be given permission to not drink alcohol. But we do. Especially if you are in a pub or a bar.
The rules, after all, are quite simple. You walk in, order some alcohol, and have fun. But what if you want to be there and not drink alcohol? Take a night off, drive home, or be bright and breezy for work the next morning? Pubs make it hard for you to order anything other than your usual tipple.
Club Soda members love going to the pub, but we are often left disappointed by the drink choices on offer if we want to be social but not hungover. Non-alcoholic options are often overly sugary, stuck in the bottom left hand side of the furthest away fridge, and more expensive than beer. Staff don’t tend to make it easy either.
So we have completed a study in partnership with Hackney’s pubs, to see if they could show a bit more love for their non-drinking customers. The result is nudgingpubs.uk – a look at the behaviour change tools that would encourage pubs to up their offer on low or no-alcohol goodies.
As you would expect, the levers of change are varied. Many pubs and bars are small businesses, working on tight margins, often with a high turnover of staff. But we did manage to change how a few treat their customers, and what they stock. We now know that they need help finding interesting low and no-alcohol beers, want to know more about what their customers want to drink, and need to know what other local bars are doing. Most of all, we need to share the word that doing this is good for business.
So how do we help all pubs or even your local to change, rather than just a few in Hackney? The answer is technology. Over the next year, we will be working with charity Blenheim CDP to develop a digital product that will not only give licensed venues all the tools and advice they need to serve this growing market of non-drinkers, but give some power back to you, the customers, too. Who will you review as being the best?
In the meantime, next time you are in your local pub, remember this advice: Don’t panic at the bar! You are the customer, so take your time ordering, make sure the staff show you the full range of their non-alcoholic drinks, choose what you want, and have a great night out.