It’s been 5 years since we first analyzed data on the impact of encouraging beer to go in taprooms. In 2018, we discovered that taproom staff were encouraging beer to go on 19% of visits. When they did not suggest it to a guest, the customer only made a to go purchase on their own 9% of the time. However, when staff did suggest it, the guest made the additional purchase 49% of the time. A guest was also an astonishing 408% more likely to purchase to go when asked vs visits when they were not asked.
So, in 2023, what progress have we made with to go beer?
In this article, we will explore to go beer data from 2018-2022, excluding 2020. We will dive into a data set of 8,216 unique taproom visits. In each of these visits, we look at the question: “Did the staff suggest taking beer to go?” and analyze its financial and experiential impact.
The results in 2019 paralleled the initial 2018 data. We saw a minor uptick (0.7%) in staff encouraging beer to go. There were no noticeable changes. Visits including staff suggesting to go beer proved to be much more profitable for breweries. Over 2018 and 2019, when staff encouraged beer to go, we saw the overall spend increase by 27.1% and 27.6% respectively.
2021 saw staff 10% more likely to encourage beer to go than in 2019. I believe the pandemic did help with training staff to encourage more beer to go and understanding the positive impact it can have on the bottom line. Additionally, visits including to go beer see the guest tip higher than on visits not including to go beer. I believe this is the case because the action of encouraging to go beer is the behavior of a staff member who is already engaging at a high level. Thus, this behavior is one of many they are exhibiting that helps create not only more memorable guest experiences, but also more profitable.
Another interesting takeaway is the total guest spend in general from 2019 to 2021. In 2019, the average tab when a guest wasn’t asked to purchase to go and didn’t make the purchase was $40.44. Under the same not asked/didn’t purchase criteria, the average guest spent $48.46 in 2019, a 20% increase. In 2019 when staff suggested to go beer and the guest made the purchase, their average spend was $51.61. In 2021, this number was $66.08, a 28% increase – and 63.4% higher than 2019 visits when the guest wasn’t asked/didn’t purchase.
Guests in 2021 were 486% more likely to purchase beer to go when asked.
In 2022, taproom staff were nearly 17% less likely to encourage beer to go than 2021. However, like 2021, guests were 473% more likely to purchase to go when asked. The average spend of a guest purchasing to go did decrease in 2022 vs the year prior ($59.20 vs $66.08). While we do not have data on it, perhaps in 2021 brewery goers were visiting less breweries and thus spending more on each taproom occasion. As their visit frequency increases, their average spend may slightly diminish.
The benefit isn’t just to your bottom line.
Your taproom staff crave higher tips and 2022 included the highest tip percentage we’ve seen on visits including staff asking and guests purchasing to go beer. The average guest who was asked and made the purchase tipped 27.4%. As mentioned, staff that engage at a high level see higher tips. Over 2021 and 2022, low engagement visits saw an average tip of 23.5%; high engagement visits hit the 27.1% mark. Notice that visits when the guest is asked and purchase to go beer exceed even the average tip for high engagement visits.
Focusing on the engagement component, low engagement visits only include staff encouraging to go beer 3.6% of the time vs the high engagement staff member suggesting to go beer 31.3% of the time.
Unfortunately, we can’t count on guests to suddenly change their purchasing habits when not asked to purchase to go. Across all of these years, guests were within 0.8 percentage points with regard to their likelihood to make the purchase on their own, when not encouraged by staff.
What can you do? Train your staff to master the habit of encouraging beer to go.
Here’s a quick list of authentic ways to encourage beer to go:
- To a first-time guest: Did you know we also offer beer that you can take home?
- To a regular: Did you know we have your favorite beer in cans?
- To anyone: It looks like you really enjoyed that _______, would you like to take some to go?
Strategies to motivate your team to encourage more beer to go:
- Rewards: Offer a prize for those who sell the most or hit sales targets.
- Recognition: Publicly recognize top performers. This can take place at a team meeting or even in an employee newsletter.
- Opportunity: Provide those who achieve to go beer goals with access to industry certifications, conference registrations, or company growth.
- Individual goals based on progress: Don’t just reward your rockstars. Provide individual team members with unique goals and rewards based on improvement (i.e. Jamaar may consistently be the top to go beer salesperson; however, they show no month over month gains. Katy may show a 25% increase in to go sales from month to month).
The moral of the story? There is still room to improve. Taproom staff should find authentic ways to encourage to go beer. No guest will ever get upset by the question. Worst case? They say no. You’ve got about a 50% chance they’ll say “yes.”
The data was collected from a set of 8216 unique taproom visits from January 1, 2018 to November 14, 2022. Each visit represents an average of 1.9 guests and the total spend includes tip.
Andrew Coplon is the Founder of Secret Hopper, a mystery shopping company for craft beer businesses, and Craft Beer Professionals, a community dedicated to the growth and betterment of the craft beer industry. Check out all of his CBB articles here.