By Daniel Hunter

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.

“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," Guy Boxall, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Casio said.

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.”

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