Encourage New Drinking Occasions to Boost Alcoholic Beverage Success

For restaurant operators, success in alcohol hinges on encouraging additional purchases for more drinking occasions.

Restaurant operators know that, when it comes to increasing check size, there’s nothing that does so faster than if a table decides to order alcoholic drinks. Consumers know that certain events call for certain beverages—from a night out celebrating to a casual dinner. But what if there were more occasions during which diners decided to order a drink—be it their favorite beer, or something new and exciting— beyond the traditional beverages they know and love?

Anheuser-Busch’s IGNITE initiative recognizes four pillars to drive category growth:

Perfect Your Category Fundamentals / Having the right product assortment on draught and in package, at the right price, featured on the menu in the right way.

Invite In NEW Drinkers (of 21+) Into the Category / Target adults of legal drinking age who are new to purchasing alcohol with approachable, easy-to-drink, flavor-forward products.

Expand Frequency By Winning With More Styles In More Occasions / Build programs and point of sale materials that activate against the key drinking occasions to increase frequency.

Drive Trade Up Within the Category / Drive trade up by featuring the right products and highlighting the right attributes to encourage people to treat themselves or purchase higher end products for celebratory moments. 


The third pillar of category growth under Anheuser-Busch’s IGNITE initiative, Expand Consumption, gives restaurants recommendations on what products and strategies they can implement to open new drinking occasions. Within this pillar are three ways to translate increased awareness into success: Evolve Meals, Reflective Reward and Smart Choices.  

Evolve Meals

“Foodie” culture has become a permanent part of the dining experience, both at home and when dining out. For restaurants, educating diners on food and beer pairings is a great way to encourage drink orders. By making consumers more aware of the different beverages available—and what foods they go best with—operators can educate diners on how to enhance, upgrade and evolve their meals into a more unique and enjoyable experience. According to data from Kantar, 51% of beer is consumed during meals—and that number continues to grow.

Operators should offer drink pairing suggestions on their menus as well as train their waitstaff to be able to make suggestions on the spot. By offering up the perfect pairing, servers can encourage their tables to order a certain beer and, in turn, increase the check total.

Reflective Reward

With encouraging new drinking occasions comes the opportunity to leverage new styles of beer to suit these new occasions. Educating consumers on how best to enjoy each of these styles, including the proper glassware and the optimal temperature it should be served at, helps elevate the experience. Additionally, promoting awareness of the occasions in which the different styles are relevant can encourage purchases.

Consumers today are busier than ever—there are fewer social occasions overall, so when consumers do enjoy a social gathering, they are more likely to want to make it special. For some consumers, making a social event more special involves enjoying a special drink, which they may think of as a reward or treat.

Whether that social event is a special occasion, a happy hour or just a weeknight dinner, diners respond to the drinks that best suit their needs at that moment. Consumers looking to relax and reenergize will likely enjoy something on the crisp, sessionable side of the spectrum such as a lager or wheat-based brew. These, as well as IPAs and pale ales suit the consumer looking to unwind. For the perfect “me time” indulgence, retailers can offer a stout, porter or cask beer for leisurely sipping.

By offering an array of beverages for every occasion—and highlighting them on the menu as such—restaurants can encourage diners to participate in more drinking occasions.

Smart Choices

Whether diners are looking for drinks that appeal to their healthy mindset or are simply seeking something fresh and new, the Smart Choices category has a lot to offer.

According to Mintel’s Oct. 2019 Beer report for the U.S., 41% of all adults, including 51% millennials, say health-related factors drive their choice in beer. The Smart Choices growth driver boosts the frequency of diners’ beer orders by providing products that appeal to their health and wellness mindset—whether it’s by providing more of the appealing attributes health-conscious consumers look for in an alcoholic beverage (i.e. certified organic, locally made) or less of the aspects they may be looking to moderate or reduce (i.e. calories, carbs, high ABV).

The Smart Choices growth driver boosts the frequency of consumers’ beer purchases by effectively marketing the attributes that appeal to their mindset: Highlighting Smart Choices in restaurants can involve anything from eye-catching signage, food pairing recommendations and clear iconography on the menu that shows a product is, for example, gluten-free or low-sugar.

Take the next step

Expanding the frequency of responsible alcoholic beverage purchases is a key step of the IGNITE initiative and involves practical opportunities for restaurant operators across markets. Operators looking for tailored insights into how to expand frequency at their own stores can contact their local Anheuser-Busch Category Management representative to learn more.