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Ditch vanilla approach to engage millennials

Published:  11 October, 2018

On-trade operators at Bar Convent were urged to ditch a “vanilla” approach in favour of taking a more political stance with the brands they pour and activities they run.

Speaking this week at the annual Berlin event, Bacardi’s global advocacy director Jacob Briars said that millennials are much more likely to want to make a difference, to interact in a positive way with the world around them and are willing to direct their spend accordingly.

“We were taught never to bring politics or religion into the bar, to basically be a blank slate, a neutral space,” said Briars, himself a former bartender.

“This is changing… millennials tell us in surveys that they are 66% more likely to choose to make an impactful purchase,” he added, referring to bars and brands that engage with political, social and environmental causes.

“This is a generation of people that are politically active through the money they spend. Put those choices in front of people and they will make choices about where to spend their money.”

Briars made the case that by becoming involved in the community and taking a stance, businesses would not only retain what he described as their “passive” or regular guests, but also attract “active” guests. And these active guests will not only direct their spend on drinks or businesses supporting a specific cause, but are also likely to spend up by as much as 25-50% while doing so.

“Active guests are those that chose a specific drink, in a specific bar, on a specific night and if you are doing a charitable thing in the bar on a Monday night, whether raising money for dolphins or immigration reform, you can see takings rise by 25% or more, and these will be the best customers you could have because they care,” said Briars.

Briars was joined by Ivy Mix, owner of Leyenda in New York City, who is an advocate for political activism at the bar, and has also raised over US$ 800,000 for breast cancer causes via her Speed Rack national cocktail competition for female bartenders.

“I feel strongly that if you have a platform to share opinions you should take that and share opinions,” said Mix, also citing an anti-Trump stance that the bar has taken as being popular with Leyenda’s local Brooklyn crowd.

Briars suggested that on-trade operators should also approach brands for support as they “have a lot of money… and are increasingly looking to have a positive impact in the localities where they are [selling].”

Together bartenders and consumers are increasingly coming together to change the way they do business and how that affects the world, he concluded.