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More than mixology – why marketing is the secret to bar success

It can come as no surprise that to impress consumers in the bar industry it is no longer enough to fill a glass with alcohol, and expect the business to return – or to even come, for that matter.

The bar industry has evolved to satisfy the modern consumers need for theatrical experiences, digital connection, and a strange addiction to an excessive number of ‘smoked’ drinks.

These changes are doubtless a manifestation of the restless modern mind. The brand experience must be seamless, evocative and exciting from every touchpoint, to match the consumers’ raucous idea of the contemporary bar. 

This need for a more holistic brand experience has led to an increase in the importance of provocative marketing messages and experiences. 

A combination of web, social and experiential marketing has been vital in driving the success of bars in the modern landscape. 


A mobile-friendly, easy-to-use website is essential for any B2C brand. It lets your customer see exactly what you have on offer, what times you’re open and what you’re about – all with just a click of the finger. 

 A website also allows you to show off your brand quirks and personality. For example, the website that we created for  Mean Eyed Cat Bar here at LITTLE featured eye catching elements such as the ‘record player’ that allows users to interact with some of the venues favourite music.

Having an online presence can be considered as especially important when it comes to bars and nightlife, as in 2016 alone “91% of young people in the EU made daily use of the internet”. Considering that the younger generation of nightlife lovers is most likely to be your target audience, it’s key that you’re easy to find online. 

Social Media

With 3.499 billion active social media users worldwide, who spend (on average) 142 minutes a day on their accounts, social media offers a huge consumer pot to pull from whether on a local, international or global level. 

Social media is a must-have for any brand, and, like with any other part of the marketing mix, it can open your brand up to a once before unreachable audience. And with platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allowing your business to achieve sales objectives such as bookings directly through the platforms, social media offers an opportunity to make the most of an audience of people that – in the UK – spends on average over a whole day of the week scrolling through their feeds. 

The bar industry is social by nature, so it makes sense that it goes hand in hand with social media when it comes to marketing. Social media is also a bar marketing essential when it comes to communicating where your audience is – for example, if you’re a bar targeting trendy 20-35 year olds, then you’re sure to reach them on Instagram, rather than in a newspaper ad.

According to a study undertaken by social media software Sprout, “75% of people purchased a product because they saw it on social media. Of that percentage, 60.7% need to see a post 2-4 times from the company before making a purchase.”

With figures like these, lacking visibility on social media could be severely inhibiting the growth of your bar business without you even realising. 

Social media is also a fantastic way to create a community of consumers, who will promote your business to their own followers and friends. 

Instagram and Facebook are littered with pictures of sparkling cocktails and flaming spirits. Part of a consumers payment has become an investment in self-promotion, an opportunity to plaster their feeds with an enviable amount of “good times”. To miss out on the chance for such free advertising could be damaging, and certainly not underrated. 


When you think that the average person receives upwards of 40 emails per day, it’s easy to understand how lucrative an opportunity this can be for your brand. Email is perfect for alerting customers to oncoming events, and also to link to your social platforms, and drive traffic back to your website. Making the combination of these three marketing methods a fabulously effective triangle of communication, each of which supports the other. 

Email can also serve as a useful push-style reminder to consumers that your business is still up, running and waiting to serve up good times! This is especially important throughout the different seasons, as emails can be useful to push celebrations for seasonal events such as Halloween, Christmas and New Years Eve. 

With so many key events continually looming on the calendar, utilising email marketing correctly can make or break your season. If your business fails to place its messages in front of the right people at the right time, you may miss out on huge opportunities for capitalising on the seasonal buzz.


We’re seeing an increased number of brands choosing to implement automation in their email marketing campaigns. At the signup stage, some brands allow users to input more than one memorable dates, and will send treats such as birthday promotions not only to the user, but also their friends and family. 

As well all know, there’s no better feeling than waking up on your birthday to a freebie bottle of fizz from your favourite bar, or a discounted bill from a beloved fine dining spot. Not to mention, a nice email can go a long way – and can make your customers feel appreciated, and more inclined to revisit your venue. 

Experiential Marketing

Another thing we’re finding is really popular with bars at the minute is experiential marketing – providing consumers with a memorable experience that encourages them to return again and again. According to a Freeman Global Brand Experience Study, a third of CMOs now plan to dedicated 21-50% of their budget to experiential marketing, which reflects just how key this form of marketing is right now. 

From the woody smell of a smoking gun, to the flicker of a flame sweeping across orange peel to even how good your bar looks on the ‘gram – everything can contribute to your customers’ experience at your venue.


Consumers are now seeking-out unique and memorable nightlife experiences, reflecting the trend for ever more dramatic experiential brand events, which has emerged in bars as a part of what Punch magazine describes as a “larger experiential zeitgeist”.

In the past decade, the popularity of experiential marketing has rocketed. Take, for example, Callooh Callay, in London. In 2015, they transformed their surroundings to provide customers with a truly immersive experience. 

Based on Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem “The Jabberwocky”, it had a hidden, reservation-only room, weird and wacky decor and menus that took inspiration from Underground Tube maps – which was great for raising the profile of the bar.  It took the idea of the experiential bar to another level, so much so that popular industry magazine, Punch, said it had “led the way” for other bars like it.  

And, this almost goes without saying, but everything should be consistent. From menus to banners, making sure everything is on-brand is another big key to your success.

So, why should you invest in experiential marketing? Well, if you’re happy with providing a mediocre experience, and want to lose out to your competitors, then, by all means, don’t put your hand in your pocket!

However, if you want to truly capture the attention and imagination of your customer, and create a loyal following of entranced regulars, including an experiential element in your bar offering is an absolute must to stay in stride with the needs of the modern consumer. 

In Conclusion…

In order to tap into the modern market, it is crucial that you invest in marketing that will cover the above touchpoints.  

By using a combination of web, social, email and experiential marketing, you are giving your business an opportunity to be heard above the noise, and to nurture long-lasting relationships with consumers. 

We have years of experience marketing in the specialist nightlife sector, and understand how important promoting your venue through the right channels is – after all, it can be the difference between progressing your business, and your offering going stale.

So, taking all of this into consideration, do you really think that your bar can afford to miss out on the rewards of marketing?


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