What is Your Bar’s Wing Night? Using Food for Bar Marketing

Pub and sports bar owners tend to choose promotions that discount alcoholic beverages. Featuring new drinks or having special events have proven to be effective with little expense (especially if they are related to holidays/seasons). However, pubs and sports bar owners all too easily give drink specials. A happy hour is nice, but those discounts cannot be the whole of your marketing strategy. Besides, in some places, nearly every bar has a happy hour, and the bar is trying to sustain traffic rather than improving it.

There is another way to go about this. Many of the best marketing campaigns of bars do not focus on the drinks, but attract customers with food. Although customers have long flocked to bars for tasty starters (or finger food), only a minority of bar owners have actually taken notice and incorporated that into their marketing.

Finding the Right Finger Food

The iconic example is wing night. Customers flow in on “wing night” and get free or nearly free wings. But almost always they drink and frequently build a nice size tab. Obviously, since hot wings are spicy, customers compensate with beer. The food enables a customer to stomach more alcohol.

It does not have to be hot wings. In fact, it would strengthen your brand if it said something about your bar. A couple of bars serve nachos or taquitos. Some places have chicken tenders; others make a memorable egg roll or special mozzarella sticks.

Match The Food With Your Brand

In most situations, the farther you get from hot wings the better. Other bars will feel less inclined to copy your promotion if it fits your brand or is a particularly good food. For example, I know a bar that has out-of-this-world tatter tots (and everyone orders them). As far as I know, no one else in town even has tater tots on the menu. It became so popular that they no longer use it in specials, but for a basket, charge nearly the same as a burger.

You can apply that theory to your bar’s brand. If you own a Cuban bar, you offer a particularly popular tapas dish. The only real requirement with the finger food is that it should be spicy or salty because those tastes compliment the taste of and increase the desire for beer or liquor.

Every Week: Same Time, Same Place

The point of these types of nights is that groups of customers build routines around them. They visit with their friends especially to drink and eat. There is a certain excitement around the food and beer (that you’ll never see with nuts and popcorn). Oftentimes, the popularity of this night makes a bar busy on Monday or Tuesday night. By becoming a ritual with friends, your bar gains an emotional component that can maintain customer loyalty.

You may think that is not why people are at a bar, and in some sense, you are right. Yet, let’s be honest. Many of the drafts you have are the same ones your competitors have. You obviously need an advantage in a different department. When customers have options, they feel less attached to bars than restaurants, so Foosball or pool tables can be the tiebreaker.

Setting up your version of “wing night” may not be easy. You may have to shore up the efficiency of your kitchen to handle the demand. Under most circumstance, that demand will be matched if not exceeded by the drinks buy from the bar. Add to that the greater customer loyalty and you will begin to see how a starter can provide your bar’s marketing.

There is another way to go about this. Many of the best marketing campaigns of bars do not focus on the drinks, but attract customers with food. Although customers have long flocked to bars for tasty starters (or finger food), only a minority of bar owners have actually taken notice and incorporated that into their marketing.