For four years, I was a server and bartender at a sports bar near a large college campus. Trust me when I say there is a lot of money in the restaurant and bar scene – restaurant industry sales in 2007 are expected to reach $537 billion, and alcohol sales comprise a large part of that total. From fraternity boys watching Monday Night Football to the Friday night business crowd ready to get their happy hour on, drinking is always on tap – or on the shelf in a bottle, depending on what the customer’s drink of choice might be.
Specifically, “drinking places,” such as bars, pubs and breweries, are predicted to account for $16 billion of the total industry revenue this year. Naturally, liquor distributors are looking to cash in on that fact; but in a large bar with a wide selection of beverage options, those distributors are constantly competing to make their products the best-seller.
The answer? Alcohol-related promotional products, of course, designed to be given out to customers – or, if cool enough, added to my personal collection. It’s a pretty simple equation, as people who drink enjoy receiving drinking paraphernalia. And though there are many products that can be used to promote an alcoholic beverage, those that prove useful while drinking tend to be the most popular among customers and staff. (Sadly, the box of panties proudly sponsoring a new type of liquor didn’t fare so well in comparison to other items.)
First and foremost, shot glasses are a perfect promo product for liquor companies. Not only can they be emblazoned with the company’s name, but they can be filled with the company’s product as well. Whether they are glass or plastic, shot glasses are reusable and fun.
Additionally, many younger drinkers consider shot glasses to be collector’s items, and will fill their cupboards with a variety of sizes and styles for later, at-home use – which means that the shot glass’s impact as a promotional product reaches beyond the person who receives it, to his or her roommates, family and friends.
I cannot stress how many times people need a bottle opener and don’t have one readily available – grilling by the pool, tailgating for a sporting event … the list goes on and on. Promotional bottle openers are generally smaller in size than those you might store in your bar at home, so they are easy to take along to the pool, lake or barbecue party. Also, many promotional bottle openers are designed to double as a key ring, which ensures that drinkers never leave home without them.
Case in point: During my time as a bartender, I received a quality, metal bottle opener/key chain with the Sam Adams logo on it from a liquor distributor. I began carrying it around in my purse and actually used it quite a few times. Then, I cleaned out my purse and decided to leave the bottle opener at home. Of course, on no less than five different occasions within the next few months, I needed a bottle opener but didn’t have one. Needless to say, it’s back in my purse now.
Perhaps the most-used promo product for the alcohol industry is the beverage holder. Cleverly designed to prevent your hand from warming your drink, beverage holders will never go out of style. And since most people use beverage holders for their beer, it only seems natural to place your drink in a holder that promotes what’s inside.
Have you ever been to a bar that has a “bucket o’ beer” special? It’s become increasingly popular lately because people enjoy buying in bulk for what they perceive to be a deal. But the average drinker also seems to have a serious fascination with the buckets these beers come in. Though they were fairly standard metal buckets featuring the name of a particular beer, we actually had to monitor the buckets and make sure no one walked out with them. So, when I saw promotional product “gift buckets” start rolling in, I knew they would be a hit. Distributors tended to use these for larger-scale promotional giveaways, such as when we hosted promotional events or parties for a specific liquor or beer. Then we would pack the buckets with T-shirts, hats and a number of the items mentioned above.
One thing is true, regardless of the promotion: You’re targeting a group of people that likes to have a good time, and is up for just about anything. Keep this in mind when choosing promotional items for the bar scene, and you’re sure to keep them drunk on your impression.
This article was written by Danielle Maheux for Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Danielle Maheux is the managing editor of Looking Fit magazine. She is also a former employee of Boston’s, The Gourmet Pizza in Tempe, Ariz.