A new report has revealed that British pubs are failing to keep up with the needs and demands made by the young, digitally-savvy population - now dubbed "Generation Y" or The Millennials - putting them at risk of alienating this crucial target market and harming their long term survival hopes.
A study of 2,000 UK consumers has shown that Millennials – who have grown up with technology as part and parcel of everyday life – have placed the internet at the heart of their social lives. For this age group, gone are the days when you met your future husband or wife in the pub, now the web has overtaken as number one dating venue; nearly one in five (19%) have met a future partner this way in the past year.
Consequently, the 'Pub of the Future' report by Casio's Business Solutions Division shows that "Generation Y" is looking for pubs that embrace these digital trends and their requirements differ from other age groups. For example, they are 67% more likely than their elders (Generation X) to choose a pub offering Wi-Fi services, and 70% more likely to select a pub that offers individual discounts and offers tailored to them.
The study, developed in partnership with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and Punch Taverns, highlights that pubs have not yet engaged with this digital revolution. Three quarters (75%) do not provide customer loyalty schemes; 78% do not offer individually tailored discounts, 91% do not offer personalised digital marketing communications, and over two thirds (67%) do not offer their customers Wi-Fi.
This is despite the fact that young people are showing particular loyalty towards the pub industry. The report shows that, in a climate where 18% of the population no longer use pubs in their local area, 16-24s are over twice as likely to use them, most likely to meet with friends or go on a date. In support of this, 30% of young people declare they would be upset if their local pub were to close down.
Guy Boxall, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Casio said: "It's clear that pubs aren't doing enough to stay relevant to the crucial 16-24 age group. To secure its long-term future, the industry needs to make a shift – and this research suggests that will be driven by digital trends."
Avoiding last orders for the industry
Recent industry research shows that 26 pubs close down each week, which is a stark warning that pubs attract a broader range of customers.
Commenting on how to avoid closure, 15% of the Millennial age group say pubs need to understand their customers better, placing the emphasis on the industry to get to grips with the digital world and the importance it now has for so many of its punters.
Technology and personalised marketing communications are clearly sounded by the report out as important future tools. When asked how the pub will have changed ten years from now, one in five (21%) of Gen Y think pubs will have embraced improved loyalty schemes for local people, and 29% believe customers will be able to order products digitally from their table.
For the vast majority of pubs who do not provide such services at present, this is an area that certainly needs consideration moving forward.
Boxall adds: "To the young people of today, online social currency converts into real-world social activities. By tapping into this untouched digital demographic, pubs could soon see a noticeable boost to their profits."
The report also dug up some interesting regional figures:
- The further North you go, the gloomier the future of the pub looks. According to the report around a quarter of residents in Edinburgh (28%), Liverpool (26%) and Glasgow (25%) do not go to their local pubs.
- In Glasgow, 17% would rather have a new local supermarket in the area than a local pub.
- In Liverpool and Newcastle, 47% are worried that pubs could soon become a thing of the past.
- But the North East remains the most loyal region to its pubs. In Newcastle, 19% of the population refer to the pub as 'the social centre for the community', and 49% would be 'upset' if their local pub were to close.
- One in five (21%) residents of Newcastle spend over £100 per month eating and drinking out - the highest proportion of any area in the UK. Bristol are the lowest spenders, with an average spend of under £20 per month.
- Cardiff is the most switched on to the digital future, as 6% of the population already use their local pub to use the Wi-Fi. Down south in Brighton and Plymouth, not a single respondent currently uses Wi-Fi in the pub.
Northern Ireland disconnected
- Residents of Belfast appear the most disconnected from their pubs it seems. 28% of respondents are 'not concerned' by the idea that pubs are closing, and 39% say their pubs need to make more effort to understand their needs better.
- The dating scene is liveliest in Birmingham, where 11% of the population use the pub to go on a date.
- But if you're looking to meet a future partner in the pub, head to Newcastle, where 37% have fond love in your local.
- But in Norwich, residents appear to be shirking the pub for online dating. Only 17% have met a partner in the pub, while 14% have met a partner online, the highest percentage across the UK.
To download a copy of Casio's 'Pub of the Future' report and infographic, visit http://www.casio.co.uk/products/integrated-epos-solutions/pub-report/
About the Survey
The survey sampled 2,042 UK consumers via an online questionnaire in July 2013. The survey was commissioned by Casio BSD and carried out by research company Censuswide.
 Jones, Alan, 2013. 26 pubs a week closing but hopes rise for future. The Independent, [online] May. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/26-pubs-a-week-closing-but-hopes-rise-for-future-8605795.html [Accessed on 16 July 2013].