“Nothing ever becomes real ‘til it is experienced,” John Keats

Food & Drink businesses should embrace the growing trend for luxury experiences in 2019.

The events business is booming and shows no sign of slowing down, according to our founders, Alex Brooke and Adam Hempenstall.

In an age where High Street retailers are diminishing and the uncertainty surrounding BREXIT is causing many other businesses to suffer, the events industry is bucking the trend thanks – in part – to a change in people’s spending habits.

According to annual research by Barclaycard, the ‘experience economy’ is still winning when it comes to consumer spending, with latest figures showing spending on entertainment has increased by 9.2% in the past year, despite continued fluctuation in the retail sector*. Spending in pubs increased by 11.2% and 8.7% in restaurants, while money spent on ticket sales to festivals, shows and concerts increased by 6.3%.

The findings show more than half of consumers (52 per cent) would rather pay for a good experience than splash out on material possessions such as clothes and shoes. The same number (52 per cent) would choose to tell their friends and peers about an enjoyable brand experience rather than a purchase they’ve made.

Such is the significance that Brits now place on having a good time that the experience a brand provides is almost equally as important as receiving value for money (81 per cent vs 83 per cent). This indicates there is huge opportunity for brands willing to prioritise the experience they offer – whether that’s through creating pop-up shops in unexpected locations or offering something additional in-store.

The value of ‘surprise and delight’

Festivals are becoming increasingly popular locations for brands to engage with their target audience. Nearly six in ten consumers (57 per cent) say they enjoy finding brands and retailers in non-traditional locations, with 23 per cent visiting a pop-up store in the last year. A further two thirds (66 per cent) suggested they respond positively to brands who surprise them with unexpected experiences or offers.

The need for brands to offer consumers ‘something extra’ is especially pertinent for food and drink retailers. 68 per cent of respondents said the setting they are served in is as important as the food or beverage itself – a clear sign that providing the best quality product or price is no longer enough to encourage customers to engage with a brand.

Business owners who have tapped into festivals as a new way to engage customers, for instance by serving food at pop-up stalls on site, tend to agree. 40 per cent believe that added experiences beyond the entertainment festival-goers have paid to see, such as activity zones, are a key factor for when deciding whether to attend.

There’s no doubt the rapid advances in digital technology have been a catalyst for change in people’s spending habits, resulting in retailers and similar businesses scrambling to adapt to this shift. However, while technology may have had an adverse effect on the High Street, it’s opening up endless possibilities for the events market, particularly for an industry that has traditionally been offline & cash based

Alex Brooke and Adam Hempenstall started Peppermint Events in 2003 to deliver fresh event concepts and high-quality bars at outdoor events. Since then, Peppermint has worked on high-profile sporting events, such as Henley Regatta and Royal Ascot to world-class music festivals, such as British Summer Time in Hyde Park.

“The events market has changed exponentially over the last couple of decades,” says Adam. “But, while technology may be proving a threat to the High Street, it’s enabling the events business to thrive. We were the first operator to accept cards and contactless at all of our outdoor events over 8 years ago and we’ve seen the uplift in spend per head, even more now that we’ve put the till in the bartenders hands.

But it’s not just any old day or night out that people are choosing to spend their money on – Peppermint has seen a real trend for luxury experiences for those discerning customers with the cash to splash.

“The industry has come a long way since we came to the market.“ says Alex. “People are constantly looking for that ultimate experience and that means thinking outside the box. Premium dining and mini Gin Festivals are a growing trend for example as well as integrated F & B experiences that focus on food and drink pairings and championing Street Food & Drinks led environments”

It’s not just the big brands benefitting from the events business either. Over the past five years or so, the UK has seen the small-scale brewery, distillery and English vineyard scene explode, meaning that there are huge amounts of interesting independents in demand – a market Adam and Alex, who after 15 years are still very much at the forefront of Peppermint, are keen to help grow.

“We work hard to champion the smaller independents, giving them a chance to showcase at events that matches their brand agenda. Our in-house event and festival activation business Equals specialises in match-making brands to the UK’s best events” adds Adam. “The third space market gives brands – big and small – the opportunity to touch the consumer in a real way, adding value to the event, brand AND consumer. There really is no substitute for experience.”

If your business is looking to make the most of the ‘experience economy’ in 2019 and beyond, contact Peppermint Events on 0333 043 7845 or via


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