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Competitive socialising trends & insights

The overall purpose of this project was to create a new bar concept in Europe tapping into the current ‘competitive socialising’ trend. Research helped us define the market in more detail, understanding the overall market and opportunities within it.

Consumers want an experience now more than ever with 72% of millennials choosing to rather devote their money to experiences over material items. The pent-up demand for experience comes alongside the decline of the high street, innovations in tech and the forced social detox created by the pandemic. People are looking to new and diversified leisure offerings that offer an exciting opportunity and chance for human connection.

The research process for this particualr project began with developing an overview of the competitive socialising landscape. Following this, it was necessary to then outline any key competitors and explore their look, and feel, as well as what they offer in terms of food & beverage and any activities. This allowed us to ascertain where the gap in the market, or where the opportunity for the client was.

Following desk research, the team also visited a competitive socialising conference to gain further insights and talk to any suppliers or operators in this space to establish contacts and get inspiration.

The research facilitated the design team’s creative concepts, and the first deliverable: a creative brief presentation that set the brief for the identity and enabled the client to pitch the idea to landlords to consolidate a space to create the venue in Europe.

Stage one

Sector immersion & competitor analysis

Some key questions that guided the research into the general competitive socialising landscape included: what is competitive socialising? What are consumer’s expectations in this space? What is being done by operators to create an offer that is enticing? As well as revealing any key figures relating to the size or value of the market, and projected growth.

Following a deep dive into the sector, revealing the key competitors in this space and how they operated, it was important to understand what was already being done, and how we could create a concept that felt differentiated in this sector.

Alongside this phase of secondary research, we conducted visits to
a number of key competitors, understanding more about the overall customer journey looking in particular at the look and feel and food and beverage offer.

Stage two

Understanding the consumer mindset

In order to understand the overall consumer mindset, secondary research was done to establish consumer behaviours, and habits in the leisure space. Consumers were split into groups and pen portraits were created to build profiles of our target consumer.

Younger people and families were our main focus and researched to ascertain how these types of consumer would interact with a competitive socialising venue, and what they might expect from similar spaces. As well as this, we looked to understand any general lifestyle habits or behaviours that might need to be considered in the creative brief.

Consumer reviews and ratings were also explored from existing competitive socialising operators in the UK to understand what consumers like or dislike about any experiences they have had in the venues visited. Comparing feedback was valuable because it allowed us to outline where current operators are lacking – and therefore where there is room to improve the overall experience for our target consumer.

Stage three

Brand positioning

On gaining a detailed understanding of competitors in this market, we were able to conduct a brand positioning exercise to establish where our brand should sit in the market and to spot any opportunities for us to fulfill. Using a brand positioning axis we plotted our competitors from those who were nostalgic in nature vs. digital and those who were game-led vs. high-tech. This exercise showed us that the area where venues that are game-led and high-tech is heavily congested. There is an opportunity for a brand to enter this space with a nostalgic look and feel and create a food and beverage offer that feels more premium and considered.

There is also congestion when it comes to multi-activity offer with a more traditional arcade-style look and feel. Therefore, there is a secondary opportunity to create a venue that offers both an elevated and curated experience, but is also multi-activity.

Stage four

Field research, conference visit

As part of the ongoing research for this project the team attended a London based competitive socialising conference which gave opportunity to listen to keynote speakers from successful socialising venues across the UK, providing us with first hand insight and inspiration.

The contacts made and knowledge gained at the event allowed us to add greater context to the brief ensuring we had a first hand view of the market as it currently stands.