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Opinion

June 4, 2024

Drink Dialogues 01: The future of the on-trade with David Beattie

In the first of our Drink Dialogues series, we sit down for a pint with beverage branding specialist, David Beattie to dissect the on-trade scene

David Beattie

Client Director

“Without creative branding, the on-trade experience isn’t enjoyable. For anyone who disagrees, I guarantee you’ve nicked a pint glass from your favourite beer brand before (we all have). That glass started with a creative brief to someone!”

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The on-trade scene has experienced one of the most turbulent periods in recent history.

Venues are below 100,000 for the first time in 20 years – with an average of six establishments closing each day.

Looking towards the future, we sat down for a drink with Senior Client Director and established drinks branding specialist, David Beattie.

David has extensive experience working with brands including Jack Daniels, Bacardi-Martini, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire, Johnnie Walker, BrewDog, and more.

In the first of two interviews, David reflects on the role brand will play in the future of the on-trade, and the remarkable venues that he believes are getting right.

Senior Client Director at Continuous and established beverage branding specialist, David Beattie

01. How important is the role of a brand when it comes to the future of on-trade?

David: I think it’s very important! When you go into any outlet, brand plays a really important role.

Whether it’s through visibility on the bar, in the menu, the serves they have, or the investment they make towards activations for consumers to showcase their products.

Imagine you went into a bar and it didn’t have any brands or POS at all – it would feel soulless!

02. Thinking about innovation, what ‘made you look’ recently?

David: In terms of standout, I’ve always thought that London Essence Co have nailed their tonic dispensers.

It’s a very cool way to show up on the bar where consumers would expect to see beer taps.

Great beer taps or glassware always catch my eye too.

Recently the Moretti Sale di Mare glasses are excellent.

03. What trends are emerging in the scene? Which ones do you think have legs and why?

David: Tequila is on the rise and has been for a long while. It will likely continue to grow through really accessible and scalable serves.

Margaritas and Palomas on tap are what everyone seems to want!

When it comes to identifying which trends will have legs – there’s a difference between a short-term gimmick compared to a movement that reflects shifting consumer behaviour.

Our team at the studio recently sat down to review what’s going on in the industry at the moment, what we’ve learnt from our clients, the patterns we’re noticing, and what this could mean for the future of the on-trade.

Click here to read our on-trade trends report for 2025.

04. Do you believe creativity can play a role in solving at least some of the challenges within the on-trade industry? If so, how?

David: I was lucky enough to speak to Sam Showing from EzTenda recently and we spoke about his article in Spirits Business on brands activating in the on-trade. He’s bang on the money.

Creative activations are what really matters in the on-trade and, crucially, helps drive rate of sale. 

Creativity – whether through activations, offers, glassware, or serves – can elevate the experience of being in a bar, getting consumers to spend more and keeping them in outlet.

Without creativity, the on-trade experience isn’t enjoyable.

And for anyone who disagrees, I guarantee you’ve nicked a pint glass from your favourite beer brand before (we all have). That glass started with a brief to someone!

05. Tell us about your favourite venue and why it’s so special?

David: There are too many to mention.

Bar San Calisto is a magical place in one of my favourite cities. I’d never go to Rome and not visit.

La Bodeguita Del Medio in Havana was brilliant.

Warpigs in Copenhagen is ace. As are the original Mikkeller and Mikkeller and Friends bars.

The Dead Rabbit in New York was a fantastic experience, in particular their Irish Coffee.

The Pot Still in Glasgow is a wondrous whisky experience too, in a largely unassuming bar from the road. I stumbled in with some colleagues whilst working on the Diageo World Class Global Finals. The bar was full of amazing people with an unparalleled whisky selection.

Seed Library in London is a great experience. Last time I was there, the great and good of the drinks industry were also there as it was during London Cocktail Week.

If you’d like to learn more about our experience within the drinks industry, please contact our Senior Client Director and drinks branding specialist, David Beattie, via david.beattie@wearecontinuous.net

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