The fact that your article, “Affairs of status” (MW September 29), identifies Scottish & Newcastle’s customers as pub landlords highlights one of the reasons why many brands fail to reach full potential in the on-trade.
The customers of all drinks brands are not retail outlets of any description, they are the conduit to the real customer – the consumer. This is not to say that pubs and bars are not of key importance. Ensuring they are stocked efficiently and using direct sales to create distribution when necessary is a given. But many brand owners abandon their products to whatever fate awaits them in pubs, usually at the hands of badly paid, unmotivated, part-time bar staff.
All of the investment in brand promise is left to the whim of those who have no interest in presentation or making a sale. However, the effect of manufacturers training and incentivising bar staff to sell and present drinks can be spectacular. Simply adding ice to Magners Cider created a major on-trade brand overnight.
In a different way the Gordon’s gin “Perfect Serve” campaign of training bar staff to serve the brand by selling it as a double measure in merchandised glasses has had a huge effect in the eight years it has run.
This activity can be further enhanced through on-trade promotions and sampling. It is a formula through which manufacturers, pub managements and consumers all win.