Regular eating and drinking out in the evening will no longer just be the preserve of the French, Spanish and Italians according to “Going Out”, the new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor.

Across Europe consumers are seeking to go out more often – driven by their desire on the one hand for experiences and indulgence and on the other for convenience. Going out will continue to become a set part of consumers’ routines, with going out during the week set to increase. By 2006 the number of times the average person will go out in the evening will go up from 1.4 to 1.6 times per week. Despite this relatively small increase, industry will benefit from a rise in yearly spend of €34bn (US$29.8bn) on evening foodservice meals and €8.8bn on on-trade drinks.

Datamonitor’s research across seven European countries found that going out in the evening is increasingly becoming habitual – where it is part of a regular routine, and not a special treat. Typically, consumers habitually going out in the evening to eat and drink have characterized countries like Italy and Spain, however, this behaviour is now catching on elsewhere in Europe.  Prompted by busier lifestyles, consumers are seeking “value-for-time” instead of just “value-for-money”.

In addition, more single person households and general attitudinal changes across Europe have led to ever-greater numbers consumers judging the value of going out based upon whether it saves time and effort or maximizes their leisure time. Going out to eat and drink in the evening increasingly satisfies consumer needs for relaxation, indulgence, experiences and time-saving, and consumers are willing to pay for it.

Consumer spend on going out in the evening (€m), 2001 2006

€m Drinks – on trade Foodservice
  2001 2006 2001 2006 
France  19,648   21,284   23,811  28,752  
Germany  28,574   29,354   20,945  19,876  
Italy  13,933   14,912   35,064  46,323  
Netherlands  4,079   4,481   4,462  5,623  
Spain  16,803   18,019   16,631  21,915  
Sweden  1,499   1,561   2,910  3,637  
UK  30,163   32,419   22,250  28,238  
Other Europe  22,940   24,406   25,214  30,873  
Overall  137,639   146,437   151,286  185,236  

Source: Datamonitor Going Out report 

The working week is set to move centre stage

In 2001 the average consumer in Europe went out to eat 1.4 times per week, but the split between the week and weekend is crucial. In 2001, 35% of all the occasions when consumers ate out were during the working week (excluding Friday evening). In drinks the split was similar – with 40% of dinking occasions occurring during the working week. Changes in consumer behaviour, which may at first glance seem small, will have a major impact. Greater going out will not be due to more celebrations however, as consumers incorporating going out into their routines during the working week will drive it. By 2006 40% and 45% of eating and drinking occasions respectively will be during the working week. This apparently small change will have a big effect though – equating to an additional 3.2bn eating or drinking occasions on evenings during the working week.

Looking good during week will lead to increased spend on cosmetics and toiletries

The effects of greater levels of going out will be felt not only in the food and drinks industries – consumers like to attend to their grooming before they go out as well. As the increase in going out is set to take place during the working week, toilets in offices and workplaces will increasingly become the places were consumers ready themselves for a night out. There will be a tangible uplift in personal care sales – it is estimated that as a result of all the extra evenings spent out eating and drinking in 2006 consumers will spend an additional €861m on personal care products across Europe – mainly on fragrances, make up and haircare. The challenge for the personal care manufacturers is to provide the type of small and convenient-to-use products that consumers can easily apply at the end of the working day.

More drinking out – but the spending on food will grow the quickest

Between 1996 and 2001, growth in the number of eating occasions was significantly greater than that of drinking occasions, but this will not continue as consumers make visits to bars, cafés and pubs the focus of their going out during the working week. These establishments offer the ideal environments in which to relax after a day at work, typified by the rise of the “gastro-pub” in the UK – offering quality food as well as drinks. However, in terms of spending consumers will seek to limit the amount of alcohol they intake (for health and monetary reasons) and this will limit the growth in the value of the on-trade to a compound annual growth rate of 1.2% between 2001 and 2006. Foodservice will see greater value growth though, with a compound annual growth rate of 4.1% over the same period.

Food choices will polarize

Social changes will affect the types of food that people eat. On certain occasions consumers are seeking indulgence and experiences when they go out in the evening to eat, on others they are seeking either something “quick and easy” or relatively inexpensive.

This means that consumers will increasingly visit fast-food restaurants, bars and cafés to eat, as well as high quality restaurants. The lower end of the market is particularly benefiting from consumers feeling that eating out only marginally more expensive than eating in, and more than worth it for the convenience. Eateries in the middle of the market will suffer as consumers either seek value options, or better quality, in other establishments.

Retail channel will be affected 

“The impact of greater going out on the retail channels should not be forgotten. In particular, food trends are often started in foodservice channels and consumers increasingly seek to replicate their restaurant experiences at home – directly affecting what they purchase in the supermarkets. This trend is also occurring in drinks, but not as strongly. However there are often short-term fashions that are started in bars and clubs that affect what people drink – from coffee to spirits,” comments Piers Berezai, Datamonitor consumer markets analyst and author of the report.

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