Thursday 9 April 2015

Standardise everthing!

There was a little article in The Morning Advertiser yesterday, telling publicans to focus on their glassware if they want to give their customers the optimal experience.

Pubs are now paying more attention to how a drink is served, and as a result customers are enjoying the benefit of more innovative glassware, according to Henry Stephenson, managing director at Stephensons Catering.

For instance, flutes etched at the bottom of the bowl are helping maintain the bubbles for Prosecco lovers, while wider-bowled flutes are being championed by wine experts because they give sparkling wines a better nose.

The article carries on in this vein for some time, with various tips for businesses in the nighttime economy. It's a niche topic, but the message is basically sound: help your customers to enjoy themselves, make life better.

I only mention it because for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every business that tries to improve things, there is a 'public health professional' trying to wreck it. That brings us to Linda Bauld and friends who published this study in Alcohol and Alcoholism last year...

Our findings suggest that, far from being merely a functional vessel, the glass has come to be an integral part of marketing activity. The role of the glass as a marketing tool has been hinted at in previous research—a previous analysis of alcohol marketing strategies (Hastings et al., 2010) noted that Smirnoff recommended ʻchunky glasswareʼ as a means of implying greater alcoholic potency—but this is the first time the glass has been examined in detail from a critical marketing perspective. Like a cigarette, the glass is a particularly intimate form of marketing because it is held in the hand and is integral to the moment of consumption (Ford et al., 2013).

... glassware for alcohol could be re-designed to encourage safer drinking, for example by deploying shapes that convey a more accurate impression of volume, or by adding marks to indicate units of alcohol, as has been recently implemented by Heineken (Heineken UK, 2013); however, the possibility that unit marks may in some cases encourage consumption would need to be thoroughly investigated before recommending this for widescale adoption. It has been shown that a ban on traditional glassware in nightclubs can reduce injuries from alcohol-related disorder (Forsyth, 2008); the possibility that such a measure may also reduce brand appeal could be investigated. Echoing the move to plain packaging of cigarettes is the time approaching for a debate on standardized, non-branded, measure-marked glassware imprinted with large harm-reduction messages?

 They never sleep.

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