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Consumer Behavior When Ordering Drinks in Restaurants

Last week, Uncorkd went cross-country and visited Las Vegas for the VIBE Conference. The largest on-premise beverage conference included interactive workshops, guest speakers and access to extensive research. Our employees gained insight into why consumers act the way they do, and we want to share some of that information with you! Start improving your restaurant by focusing on these facts and tips.

The research presented below came from a study conducted in February of 2015 by VIBE operators and suppliers. It was conducted nationally, pulling results from 1,047 consumers. There was an even split between males and females, and the divide between Millennials, Generation X and Boomers was 33%.  The survey was focused on dining chains and all people surveyed had consumed wine, beer or cocktails from a chain within the past 30 days.

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The Economy 

After surveying the sample, VIBE discovered that males are more likely to go out and spend more than females are. In fact, males tended to outrank the females in a majority of the categories that related to spending habits and the economy. In general, the improving economy and lowering gas prices are bringing people out of their shell and into restaurants and bars. Millenials were found to be going out more often, while 32% of those 50 and older are going out less. Although conditions are improving, most consumers prefer to go to the same types of places that they have been in the past. This means that brand loyalty is a big concern, and restaurants should be paying attention to their regulars. When consumers come into the restaurant, 80% visit because of the food. This is followed by affordable everyday pricing, great service and finally, great drinks. This gives restaurants a window of opportunity to bring more people through their doors by spicing up their drink menu.


Did you know that 85% of consumers do not know their drink order when they walk through the doors of a bar or restaurant? This is where the drink menu proves detrimental. A majority of customers decide on a restaurant or bar based solely on the menu. The information you provide through this resource can push the sale through. Millennials tend to take the bartender’s suggestions more than those in other generations. However, restaurants need to keep in mind that their bartenders can’t be everywhere at once. Having solid information and details makes the drink ordering process both easier and faster.

When customers order drinks at a restaurant, VIBE discovered that most guests purchase one to two. It was revealed, however, that 66% would order an additional drink if given the opportunity. This can be done quite simply. In fact, VIBE found that the most effective way of nudging a consumer towards another drink is when the server asks “Are you ready for another?” After that, consumers will continue to buy if the quality is high and the service is quick.


59 of the consumers surveyed claimed that the most important element on a drink menu is the price. A majority of consumers expect it, and 62% won’t even place an order if they can’t see the price. Seeing the price makes consumers feel more comfortable, since they know what is and isn’t in their budget. People prefer to have regular, reasonable, everyday prices instead of regular pricing and happy hour deals.


When it comes to digital menus, only 24% of respondents have used one in the past. On the other hand, 53% are interested in using electronic menus to place an order. As technology evolves, it is becoming more and more standard to have it in restaurants and food and drink service establishments. Consumers are starting to expect it even. When it comes to social media, 59% of consumers have used it to look at a restaurant. The establishment’s website is the most visited, followed by Facebook and finally the restaurant specific app (if available).

These facts and statistics are valuable to increasing your restaurant’s beverage sales. Understanding consumer behavior is  skill that can be utilized year after year and continue to drive people through the doors of your restaurant or bar.

Want to learn more about how to increase beverage sales and menu science?

Download our free Definitive Guide to Increasing Wine Sales.