Analysis of Sports Bar Businesses in India for Opportunities
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Sports Bar Business in India from a Cultural and Branding Perspective
Post liberalization the Indian economy has grown exponentially. The fall out of this is the increase in disposable income of the consumers, emergence of credit card culture and the decreasing size of households. The change in the economic status is the catalyst to the change in the social and cultural trends that have caused the change in the way a consumer views everyday food and beverages. The consumer today has very different preferences. Consumers today are more aware about different things in the world due to extensive travel and foreign media. These are some of the social and economic reasons behind the consumer moving towards fine dining, imported spirits and wine as opposed to conventional beverages. Due to this paradigm shift coffee shops, restaurants, fast food joints and bars have become successful.
India is relatively new to the concept of a bar. In India bars are located mostly in the metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad etc. Sports bars in particular are very new to our country and are growing at a very rapid rate. The advent of IPL and the increase in craze for club football and F1 has only boosted its prospects.
The Indian economy is booming and the living standards and the lifestyles in the urban areas are fast changing. Entertainment as an industry is growing exponentially over the past decade. From the turn of the 21st century more and more avenues of entertainment have opened up in our country. Eating out as a form of entertainment has been catching up over the last decade. More and more families are going out for dinner or lunch on a regular basis and this is a form of entertainment for them.
Changing Indian Economy & Consumer Preferences:
As of 2007 the median age of India is 24. Due to the abundant job opportunities and the surge in the economy the amount spent by a consumer on alcohol has increased significantly. The number of women working has increased by a large percentage and due to this the double income households have more disposable income. They can afford give their children more pocket money and they are spending a far greater amount socializing in restaurants and bars. The expenditure of consumers on alcohol drinks has increased by 650% from 1995-2007. (Consumer Lifestyles india, 2008)
The rise in income is leading to overall growth in consumption by an average Indian. Eating out on a regular basis has now come to become a cool habit. Eating outside is becoming more and more popular. According to a research conducted by Federation Of Hotel and restaurant Association of India (www.fhari.com 2005) there are 10 million households in India with an average income of Rs 46,000/month and 2 million households with average income of 115,000/month. Due to the change in their economic strata, eating out has become a trend within these elite groups. There are 100 million 17-21 year old in India, and six out of 10 households have a child that was born in the post liberalization and has been brought up with no guilt of consumption. It is estimated that as of 2005 there are 5,00,000 restaurants in the organised sector and this will only increase in the future.
According to a survey conducted by The Economic Times, 1.7 percent of Indians dine out more than once a week, 2.5 percent do so once a week and around 2.1 percent dine outside once a fortnight. About 5.5 percent eat out of home once a month on an average and 5.4 percent eat out once every 2-3 months. Around 8 percent say eating out is relegated only to festivals. For 69.6 percent eating out is a rather rare occasion. (Ref: The Economic Times, 21 May,2005).
The consumers in the urban areas are more aware of the international brands due to their exposure from offshore travel and media and do not hesitate to pay for premium goods. According to National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) there are five classes of consumer households and the greatest growth is in the upper strata. Upper strata are defined as households with income in excess of Rs 215,000. More than 80% of the top earning households in India are located in the top seven cities of our country. Due to this most of the disposable income in the country is located in these areas. This is the reason behind the growth rate of restaurants, coffee shops, fast food joints and bars in these cities. Another major factor influencing the growth in the food and beverage industry in India is the fact that more than 70% of the country's population is under the age of 40. This explains the rise of expenditure on leisure products and entertainment.
Indian Theme Restaurants:
However, eating out as a concept is also fast changing. People want to break away from the monotony of eating in the same food joints and are looking for more experiential and new avenues to hang out and spend time with their family and friends. Themed restaurants and bars are the flavour of the season. More and more themed bars and restaurants are mushrooming in various metros like across India.
A number of theme restaurants have been successful in India. Some of the successful and well know theme restaurants are
- Mercurries in Delhi - Theme, Solar system
- Orient Express at the Taj Palace New Delhi - Theme, Railway carriage of yore
- Village in Mumbai - Theme, Indian village
- Gufaa Ohri's in Hyderabad - Theme, Dungeon etc.
- Serengeti Ohri's in Hyderabad - Theme, Jungle (Roy, 2008)
Each of these theme based restaurants has been successful as the people are looking for a lot more than just eating at the food joints. The time they spend at the restaurant is made more enjoyable interactive and memorable because of the different concepts of these restaurants.
This theme based format has been inspired from the success stories of the west.
Indian Theme Bars/Sports Bars:
Another popular retail format which is just picking up in the Indian market is the bars. Bars in India have mostly mushroomed around metros and other urban areas. There are very few bars in other parts of the country. Traditionally consumers bought the liquor at wine shops and consumed them at home. However, now with the advent of Restaurant/Bars, Bars and clubs, the consumption habits are changing. Bars in India are of various types. Some are social bars where people get together to socialise drink, eat and have fun. Some of these bars are theme based like the Hard Rock Cafe and TGIF. Then there are the shady bars where only men go. Bars with a big enough dance floor are termed as nightclubs. Sports bars are another kind of bars which have just made their way into the Indian market.
Sports bars are bars where sports fans find an authentic sporting ambience with large LCD screens for watching live feeds of important international matches, pool tables, basketball courts and video games. Today there are close to 30 sports bars in India across various metros. The biggest player in the Indian market currently is Future Group's subsidiary Galaxy Entertainment Corporation Ltd. It has two brands under it, “The Sports Bar” and “Sports Express.”
Sports Express offers a wide variety of entertainment activities ranging from Television Programmes, Cricket, Soccer, Pool, Basket-Ball area, Darts and certain places also have a Cricket Pitch. They also serve various Indian and imported brands of liquor along with pan Indian cuisine. It has seven outlets in various cities and another four outlets in the pipeline.
“The Sports Bar” another brand of Galaxy Entertainment Corporation Ltd is located in Mumbai. It is a complete sports bar complimented with an unrivalled ambience. It has a giant screen, multiple LCD TV's, basketball court, pool tables, punching bags and dart boards. It is a favourite destination for many professionals who just wish to unwind after a hard day's work.
Xtreme Sports Bar is another chain of sports bars; it has seven outlets across Hyderabad, Bangalore and Gurgaon. They also have similar offerings as the other sports bars. However, they are looking to expand further and are looking for suitable people to take up the franchise.
Other popular sports bars in India are,
- Champions, Delhi
- Starstruck, Kolkata
- Super stars, Kolkata (Roy, 2008)
Other theme bars in India are,
- Hard Rock Cafe one of the biggest retail brands in the world has opened its shops in various locations like Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore etc.
- TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) is another example of an international retail format opening up in India and doing well.
- 21 Fahrenheit
- Condom bar Chandigarh
There are a number of factors due to which these theme based bars and restaurants are successful. One important factor which is attractive to people to come to these places is the authenticity they have in decor and food. All these theme based food retail outlets are true to their name and provide a unique experience in line with their theme. The moment you step into these places you are transformed to a fantasy world and the food they serve is very authentic and apt to their name. Even in the case of sports the whole ambience created in the place is so electrifying during any international sporting event. The decor and the buzz in a sports bar are beyond words. With the flags hung in every corner of the place and the giant screen to watch the watch on with a drink in your hand is an experience a lot of the consumers have come to love. Some have argued that the concept of having theme bars and restaurants are just a fad, but it has been proved otherwise.
Most of the academic articles that I came across were written in the global perspective. There is little literature or data available about bars in the Indian context. In particular when it comes to Sports Bars in India the only information available is about some of the sports bars in India in brief and about the themed restaurants in India.
There is no clear information available about the consumer profile of the people who frequent the Sports Bars in India. Also, there is no information available about the consumption pattern of Sports Bar as entertainment/leisure in the Indian context. The articles I have found have no information what so ever on the branding opportunities Sports Bars have. The Socio-Cultural changes that have impacted the average consumer's outlook towards a bar are also an important factor that is missing in the literature available. The reasons behind the bar being perceived as a socially acceptable and sophisticated socializing place today is also not covered in the information Available.
To study the sports bar business in India and identify the opportunities these bars have as a business in India. Also to understand the changing customer behaviour towards sports bars.
- To study the evolution of sports bars in India and understand their system of operation
- To study the growth of sports bars in India and also understand the consumer behaviour related to sports bars
Exploratory research in 3 areas:
- Study the evolution of the sports bars in India
- Attitude of consumers towards sports bars
- Patterns and reason for visiting sports bars
Data Collection Method:
PHASE I: Secondary Research - Studying the different retail formats of bars in India and their evolution by gathering information from different articles and journals published both globally and locally.
PHASE II: Primary Research - Primary research involved mostly qualitative research.
1. 5-6 In-depth interviews with industry stake holders like bar owners and bar managers;
- Ravi K Malpuri owner Hall Of Fame Sports Bar, jubilee hills, Hyderabad
- Eddie Richards manager Hall of Fame Sports Bar, jubilee hills, Hyderabad
- Arjun Yelluri owner of Xtreme Sports Bar, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad
- Santosh Nath bar manager, Xtreme Sports Bar, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad
- Pramod Reddy owner Live Sports Bar, Nubilee Hills, Hyderabad
2. In-depth interviews with consumers (10-15)
- 3 Male (21-30 age group), 3 Male (31-45 age group)
- 3 Female (21-30 age group), 3 Female (31-45 age group)
The findings of these interviews will be used to generate a questionnaire. The purpose of the questionnaire is to validate the findings from the In-Depth interviews.
3. Type of research: Qualitative/Quantitative
- Number of respondents 150
- Age group 21-45
- Questionnaire administered to consumers and non consumers of bars/sports bars.
The In-depth interviews with the industry stake holders will give me a better idea about the target audience and their profiles. The questionnaire was designed from the inputs gathered after the In-depth interviews with industry stake holders and consumers. The questionnaire was administered online due to the absence of bars in the state of Gujarat. The questionnaire is attached in the appendix.
The information and data collected through the In-depth Interviews and Questionnaire would be analyzed to come up with research findings for the Sports Bar Industry.
Anybody living in cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, within the age group of 21-45. The person could either have visited or not visited sports bars.
- Random Sampling
- Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore
Evolution of Sports Bars
Bars have been around in India for decades. Mostly they were dance bars and some bar upscale bars in the metros. Since the beginning of the 21st century more and more upscale bars and theme bars have been proliferating in India starting with the major metros like Delhi and Mumbai to now cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon etc. As the income levels of an average Indian in the cities is increasing, they are looking for different avenues to spend their leisure time and hang out with friends and colleagues.
The Indian businessmen have always looked to the west for success stories to start their endeavours in India. The bars/restaurants is an example of that. Serving alcohol in a restaurant was a thing of the star hotels only initially. Today hundreds of restaurants have a bar and serve a variety of foreign/Indian liquor and a wide range of cocktails and mocktails.
Then came the concept of having gaming areas like pool and bowling. This business model did not take off in India as the Indian government did not give permission to this kind of gaming zones to serve liquor and they retired to becoming just gaming zones and entertained youth and families. After this during the late 90's and early 2000's theme restaurants started opening in India. These restaurants charged a premium for the experience they provide to their customers. The decoration in these restaurants was exquisite. Places like the Oriental Express and The Village restaurant are examples of this.
Evolving Indian Market & Consumer
The Indian customer is ever evolving and adapts to the western trends very easily. The cumulative impact of increasing disposable income, foreign exposure and western media has changed the requirements and consumption habits of young Indians. Hanging out in bars has become a casual thing and a way to unwind for us. Thanks to these upscale bars and clubs, it is not a taboo anymore to go and have a drink in a bar in India. As the consumption of bars has increased also came in a number of clubs starting in major cities like Mumbai Delhi and Bangalore. Initially only hotels had in-house clubs, but over the years a lot of independent clubs have emerged.
Sports Bars are popular hang outs in Europe and America. The first ever sports bar was opened way back in 1894. “Nuf Ced” McGreevy opened his “3rd Base Saloon” in Boston. The number of local tournaments that happen in these countries is much larger. Due to this a large number of local fans flock to these sports bar to form a community of sorts to support their teams. Apart from these general sports bars there are a large number of bars which promote and support a particular sports club. Most of these bars are in collaboration with the sporting club itself. The telecast all live matches of the club, sell merchandize and have fan interactions at a regular basis at these bars.
There was little or no real differentiating factor between bars in India. The need to differentiate gave way to different theme bars and restaurants across India. The first sports bar in India was opened in Goa. It was the perfect place to open the first sports bar as it has a rich culture of football and has a number of spectacular local football clubs like Salgaocar, Dempo, Churchill Brothers, Vasco Sports Club. The fans here have been known to travel to different venues to support their teams.
Today there are a number of clubs and bars in all major cities in India. Due to this there is not much differentiation between these places. Sports Bars have always been very popular in the western countries where it has become a culture of a sort where friends go to a particular sports bar to watch every local teams match. This popular successful and well tested format of bar was introduced in India only a few years back. Today there are more than 40 sports bars in India.
Impact OF IPL
The recent surge in the number of sports bars in India can be attributed to the success of IPL (Indian Premier League). Cricket has always been like a religion in India. The only problem was it was not short like a football match. Now with the advent of 20-20 cricket it has become easier for the audience to consume this sport. Due to the fast nature of this format of cricket IPL has become a huge success and this has helped sports bars in India flourish in leaps and bounds.
As most of the major cities have their own IPL teams it has increased the local audience's involvement in the sport. This has been the major factor which has influenced the proliferation of sports bars in the recent years across cities in India. Sports bars are filled to capacity on a match day. The most popular sports in Indian sports bars apart from cricket are football and F1. Some sports bars have tie-ups with local sporting teams and sell their merchandize and promote those teams.
For example, Xtreme sports bar in Hyderabad has a tie-up with Deccan Chargers which is the cities cricket team in the IPL. They have different offers and promotional events during the IPL season and in particular during a Deccan Chargers match. Deccan chargers in turn use this bar as a platform to promote and interact with the local fans. The team players make appearances during the IPL season and interact with the fans, also, they have other promotional activities like having the official team cheerleaders come and perform at the bar.
Recently Manchester United Food & Beverage (Asia) Pte Ltd and Billionaire Sports Pvt Ltd in collaboration have announced that they will open the first ever offshore club sports bar in India in the city of Delhi. The first ever Manchester United Restaurant and Bar will set the precedence for other clubs to setup their sports in the country where the love and fan following for English Football is rapidly increasing. Local clubs like the Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals have announced their intentions to launch their own sports bar to promote their clubs and entertain their loyal fan base. This would give them an avenue to brand their sporting clubs and also sell their wide variety of merchandize.
Xtreme Sports Bar, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad
Manufacturers of sports equipment could use sports bars as a platform to indulge the customers through subliminal branding. The branding at the bars can be done very subtly. As there is already a lot of player merchandize available, sports manufacturers like Nike can promote their brands by hanging only Nike sponsored player jersey's and memorabilia. Apart from this the manufacturer's merchandize can be sold at these bars. For ex: Puma the official sponsor of Deccan Chargers can choose to sell their merchandize in these bars where the involvement of the customer is very high as most of the customers are sports fans.
Xtreme Sports Bar, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
SuryaRay Elixirs Pvt. Ltd.the parent company Xtreme Sports Bar has the largest chain of sports bars in India. The annual revenue of this chain is already in excess of Rs. 25cr within just 2 years of launching. They have 7 outlets across India in cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore and Gurgaon. They plan to expand further in the next couple of years and target revenue of Rs. 160 in a couple of years.
Apart from the large number of high definition TV's and a few large projection screens Xtreme Sports bar also offers Foos Ball, Golf Simulators, Dart Board Games, Console Gaming, Lan Gaming and Pool tables for the entertainment of their customers during non match days.
Live Sports Bar, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Hall of Fame is the new sports bar that has opened in Hyderabad located in Jubilee hills. This bar boasts of eighteen 42 inch televisions and two large projection screens to provide the ultimate match viewing experience to their customers. Licence of sports like NBA etc have been taken by the bar to telecast uninterrupted matches over broadband. The menu itself consists of 12 different types of chicken wings which are the most popular among the match watching crowd apart from other continental dishes.
The raw materials for the food are directly imported from the US in order to provide the highest quality of food to their customers. They call themselves a sports grill and not just a sports bar as they give a lot of importance to their expertise in the food services they provide. Hall of Fame plans to expand its branches into cities like Mumbai and Bangalore later this year.
Focus On High-End Decor & Quality Of Service:
In order to compete in the clustered bars and restaurants segment sports bars have carved a niche for themselves. The food service industry is very competitive and in order to compete in them sports bars are redefining this segment and investing a lot in high end decorations and facilities. These bars have a large number of high resolution plasma TV's, and large projection screens and comfortable seating arrangements equipped with class bean bags, sofas and comfortable booths as opposed to the normal seating arrangements available in other bars and restaurants.
To keep up the upscale image most of these bars serve a variety of cuisines and employ well trained chefs. The menus are exquisite and offer a large variety. Both Indian and foreign liquors are served in these bars ranging from beer, wine, whisky, scotch, cocktails, mocktails and other in-house specialities. The menu is quite often named after the local club players and sports stars to increase the involvement of the customers.
To add to the ambience and the experience player jerseys and flags of different players and sports teams are displayed in the bar. Autographed photos of players, jerseys and other sports memorabilia are hung on the walls. These bars partner with sports teams and liquor companies. As most people come here to watch live matches and have a drink while doing so, the menu focus is mostly on starters and appetizers as people would like to have something to munch on while drinking and watching the matches.
One of the unique attractions of these bars is the private cabins they offer. A customer can call and book the private cabins which have a seating capacity of 8-12 people and are equipped with comfortable sofas and bean bags along with a plasma TV. Customers can enjoy the match, sports bar ambience whilst having their privacy. Regular customers are given preference for the cabin and also these bars offer a variety of offers when a local team's match is being telecast. This encourages more customers to come in to watch the local team's matches.
These bars try to focus more on the experience and not merely on telecasting the matches. As not all customers who come into these bars are sports oriented, they give equal importance to the level of service and offering they have apart from the viewing experience itself.
The key elements of a sports bar
- Sports based themes—the sports bar should focus on themes that have mass appeal in India. So the focus should be primarily on cricket and other popular sports like football and F1.
- Distinctive design features and decor— Every bar should have its own characteristic and the main attraction is the visual appeal of the design and layout of these bars.
- The large collection of sports memorabilia that is displayed at the bars is a big attraction and adds great value to the place. The more authentic the memorabilia the better. Even Hard Rock Cafe does the same with musicians memorabilia displayed all around the place.
- The location of the sports itself is very important. The bar should be located at a high profile location. The bar should be located at a location which is close to both high profile residential area and also offices.
- It is also important to take into account the traffic conditions in this area and the income levels of residential areas near to the intended location of the bar.
- Getting in celebrities and sportsmen into the bars is an important promotional activity. A sports bar get into a tie-up with celebs and athletes as these events would give them enough media coverage during their appearances at these bars.
- The waiters and bartenders uniform is also designed to fit the mood and decor of these bars. They all wear uniform which look like sports jerseys with the company logo their number and name written at the back ala sportsmen.
- Some of these bars sell merchandize of the sporting clubs they are involved with.
- Some stores which have garnered a fan following of sorts can also sell their own bars merchandize to their loyal customers.
- Apart from providing liquor and telecasting live matches on high resolution televisions and screens, a sports bar also has to focus on providing a wide variety of cuisines
- The pricing should be reasonable and affordable and each bar should have its own signature dish
- In order to improve the experience of the customers all sports bars should maintain a high ratio of personnel to customers. This would mean that the customers are tended to quickly.
- Also the training given to the service personnel and the bartenders should be of the highest order to keep up the high class image of these bars.
- Having private cabins in your offering is beneficial. Though a large number of people come to sports bars to get immersed in the match along with a large crowd and get a live match feeling, a certain group of customers still would like to have their privacy. This where the private cabins come in handy.
Changing Indian Consumption Habits
Among Indians eating out is a popular activity. Every year Indians spend over INR 350 billion on eating out in restaurants, fast food joints, bars etc. Eating out is a very popular activity while attending other functions. It is estimated that Indians spend INR 350 billion eating out annually. Of this organized establishment's account for only INR 20 billion. International fast food chains such as Subway, McDonald's and Pizza Hut are found in shopping malls and near cinema theatres. The "well-off” in urban areas are increasingly eating out in coffee shops, malls or retail stores. Lounge bars are the latest trend in urban areas and are frequented by young professionals, successful executives and single women in their late 20's. This trend began in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata and will no doubt spread to other urban areas. Among the "affluent", clubs are becoming popular. In addition to many recreational Facilities they are upgrading their food facilities and can compete with some of the finest restaurants or hotels of India. The new in thing are the sports bars which are mushrooming in different corners of the country. People who are interested in sports or like to be associated with sports go to these places. These bars are frequented by students, young professionals and executives most often.
Table 1 Number of On-trade Establishments by Type 2004-2008
Source: Trade interviews, Euromonitor International estimates
Table 13 RetailConsumerExpenditure on Alcoholic Drinks 2004-2009
Source: Euromonitor InternationalNote: 2009 data is forecast
Sports Bars Target Segment:
The customers who visit sports bars are segments into five different groups,
- Young Professionals
- Successful executives
- Sports Enthusiast/Fan
Men and women between the age of 21-25 who are either studying or unemployed fall under this segment. This segment of customers come to a sports bar just to hang out with their friends, enjoy the ambience and enjoy the food and liquor services provided by the bar. This customer comes into sports bars with a group of friends both male and female, and all within the same age group. These people get pocket money from their parents and hence are not spendthrifts. However, portions of this group come from very affluent families, and have no limit on their expenditure. This target segments are very trendy and are very seldom loyal. They are attracted to special offers and discounts and look for these offers availability before going to a place. Offers like happy hours of buy one get one free attract this segment of people. They are generally seen before the peak hours as discounted prices are available at this time.
These people are in the age group of 24-30. They have a decent amount of disposable income and like to indulge in activities which help them distress after work. They often come in after work to unwind. They come in either with their colleagues or other friends. These groups can have people from different age groups. They come in to watch the matches as well as to just sit and chat with their friends or colleagues.
The people in this segment generally fall under the age group of 30-45. They have already arrived in life and belong to a high income segment. These people often come in just for a drink to catch-up with their friends over a few drinks or with their colleagues to discuss business offline. These people often consume foreign liquor and generally have time to watch only important matches.
This target group accounts for a third of the revenue generated by the sports bars. They are big sports fans and follow their favourite sports passionately. They belong to different age groups and can be students, young professionals or successful executives. This group of sports enthusiast try to not miss their favourite team matches live, and like to kick back with a drink and enjoy the match with their friends and peers. Sports bar provides all the amenities they need to recreate the atmosphere of watching these matches in a stadium with the chanting and hooting going on in the bar where the spirits are very high.
Families often are looking for a change when they go out for dinner. Some families visit the sports bars to enjoy the food services as well as catch-up with each other. Very seldom do families with children come in to these bars. Most often they are families with retired parents and working sons or daughters. The focus of consumption is largely food and very little or no alcohol is involved.
Among all the above segments of customers, the sports enthusiasts are the ones who are really passionate about sports and need to be targeted. Sports fans are of different levels; below we understand the psychographic segmentation of the same to understand the growth path of the sports fan and how to turn them into the bars loyalists.
The Sports Fan Ladder: Psychographic Segmentation
This ladder shows the categorization of sports fans. With each step the relationship of the fan with the sport becomes stronger and also the emotional heat increases. An understanding of this classification is really important as something that may work for one category may not work for the other. Thus we need to take a deeper look at the psyche of each of the categories, to know them a little better and to find out what ticks for them.
This is the hierarchy of the sports fan ladder
The indifferent fans
a) these are not sports fans
b) they are the ones who'll switch between channels if the match is not so interesting
c) they are not the supporters of any team or follower of any specific player
d) they mostly watch the match because everybody else is watching it
e) not interested in keeping themselves updated with the latest happenings in any particular sport
a) these are sports fans and have a particular sport they love
b) they tune in to their television sets especially to watch the match
c) they may or may not be the supporter of a team or a player
d) they enjoy cricket/football/F1 as a sport
a) they are the next stage in the fan ladder
b) they support a specific team or a player
c) they are ready to shell out money from their pockets
d) they take part in contests, quiz's related to the event
e) they'll also go for the membership of their favourite team's etc
a) these are the ones who would spent money to buy the team jerseys
b) they would dress in their team colours during the match's
c) they would go to stadium to watch match's of their team's
a) these are the ones who are diehard fans of a specific player or a team
b) their dream in life is to meet their favourite player/team
c) they are ready to participate in any contest that could give them the opportunity to be close to their favourite player/team
d) they would be present in the stadium cheering their side
e) they are never ready to listen to anything against their team
a) they are the ones who actually do more than just take part in contests to be with their favourite player's
b) they are proactive in their approach
c) they volunteer to become the ball boys or for any such activity so that they are close to their player always
a) this is one special category of fans
b) they support their side with their souls
c) they are the ones who would paint their faces, their bodies with the team colours
d) they are the ones who add flavour to the match
e) but they are really dangerous, as they can become violent if their team looses
f) they are very few in India currently
g) their presence is really important, as a match will be incomplete without them
Among the following categories of sports fans, a sports bar needs to identify and target fans who fall under the category of “Wallets” “Collectors” and “Attachers”.
SPORTS FAN PYRAMID
The sports bars should focus on converting the fans falling under the indifferent fan, eyeballs into attachers and collectors. These category of fans are more likely to become loyalists of a sports bar given the fact that they are provided with all the amnesties they require to enjoy the matches of their favourite teams in an exhilarating environment.
Sports Bar Business Strategy
The strategy of sports bar is to target their customers appropriately in order to capitalize on their niche offerings. The sports enthusiast, the business entertainer and traveller, the local night crowd, as well as families dining out all can enjoy their time in a sports bar. The uniqueness of the offerings of a sports bar is what will attract the customers. Identifying the correct target segment and customizing their product offering will help them turn their customers into loyalists.
Some of these sports bars already have a chain of outlets. They give immense importance to recreating the same standard of product offering. The decoration and the look and feel of the bar and the environment created in these bars are maintained across different outlets. The owners of the franchisee concentrate on recreating the same emotional connect when you visit any of these outlets. This unique identity of the chain of bars is what creates a unique identity and it helps to the marketing efforts as the customer feels at home when he comes to a new bar which has a familiar feel to it.
The marketing strategy used by sports bars is an amalgamation of local media and events conducted at the retail outlet itself. Print media is used as the focal point in marketing their bar apart from using the local radio channels to keep the customers updated about daily events and offerings. The other major sources used by bar marketers today are the social networking sites.
Bars have a set marketing budget allocated to them. The mediums they use are radio newspaper print ads and the internet. All information about the in-store promotions and events happening at these bars on a day to day basis are promoted using these mediums.
The focus of the bars is to promote sporting events and matching that are going to be telecasted live at their bars. Any high profile match in various sports like cricket, football, F1 and tennis are promoted using various media. Some sports bars promote a particular local team and they promote each of their matches aggressively. They also offer special discounts to people showing up in the team jerseys. These kind of customized offerings are common in sports bars.
Merchandize of the sports bar and the local team merchandize are also sold at these places. Some sports bars also announce heavy discounts the day after the local teams win to celebrate and entertain the true fans of the team. These events are administered in collaboration with the sporting team itself. The costs of the discount are shared by the sporting team management.
All the items in the menu are moderately priced. Beer being the fast moving liquor of them all is always coupled with special offers and discounts. Pitchers are the most popular in these bars. Often most of these bars have a tie-up with one particular liquor company. They sell the pouring rights of these bars on a contract basis for terms ranging from 2-5 years. These liquor companies then gain the sole pouring rights in those sports bars. Hence the beer company for example also offers beer at a much discounted rate than to other bars. This helps the bar in staying afloat in the competitive price battles between bars. Most bars have combo offers.
The average investment required to start a sports bar in a city like Hyderabad is between Rs. 1.5 to 2 cr (Source: Hall Of Fame Sports Bar Owner). The breakeven point target for these bars is three years. The sales strategy is to build and open new outlets of the same franchisee in order to capitalize on the growing market and increase the overall revenue. Outlets are opened in different locations to build the local customer base of each of these areas. Once the outlet reaches it breakeven point it is considered mature and newer outlets are planned.
Retailers Point Of view
- Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills are the most affluent residential places in Hyderabad and this is one of the reasons behind choosing this as the location for these sports bars
- Located in the heart of Jubilee hills and Banjara Hills these bars are very close to Madhapur where most of the IT firms and other offices are located. On an average 80,000 employees from various companies travel to Madhapur everyday and that is the reason behind choosing this strategic location
- The capital required to launch a sports bar is between Rs. 1.5 - 2cr and the expected industry average to get to the breakeven point is within 15 months time
- The sports bars have a seating capacity of 150 - 200 and they plan to expand more once they are established enough
- On an average each of this bars have around 35 waiters who work in shifts, so at point in time there are at least 15-20 waiters in the bar. The average ratio of personnel to customers is 1:10 and this is a very healthy ratio in any services industry
- An average of 3-4 bartenders are employed and 12-15 cooks
- Each of these sports bars have two managers, one each to handle the day time crowd and the night time crowd
- Some new sports bars which have just opened like the Hall Of Fame has a lower turnover at the moment. The daily turnover is around Rs. 30,000. The well established bars and franchisees like the Xtreme sports bars have a turnover in excess of Rs. 60,000 per day.
- During match days the turnover is almost doubled as the number of customers they get is much larger and as they stay for the whole tenure of a match the average consumption of food and alcohol per customer is much higher
- Sports bars entertain a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and age groups. Students and working professionals form the largest chunk of their customers and the rest are families who often visit the place for lunch or dinner. The break-up of the customers who visit the bar is students 40-45%, Working professionals 40-45% and families 10%
- Most of the customers are male and only around 30% of the customers who visit their bar are females
- Most of the time the women tag along with their male friends
- Only women groups are very rare in this sports bar, but men are mostly accompanied by women so they do form a third of the customers who visit the bar on a regular day
- Not many women are keen on sports so their involvement in the place is limited to the company they have and the food and beverage services provided by the bar
- Mostly women indulge themselves in the wide variety of food and liquor options available
- For most of the women this is like just any other bar for them and the only reason they have come to a sports bar is because they have tagged along with their male friends who are interested in sports or because they have come to this place based solely on the decoration and services offered
- The women who come along with their male friends on a match day do end up showing some interest and enthusiasm towards the match. The reason behind this being the electrifying atmosphere that is created in the bar during a match
- However, a few women who do come in by themselves which is a rarity are very enthusiastic about sports
- During a match day there is sudden spike in the number of customers who visit this sports bar. There is an increase of 50% in the number of customers on a match day as opposed to a normal day
- A large number of the customers who come in on a match day are not the regular customers. An estimated 50-60% of the customers who come in to watch a live match telecast are non regular customers
- On a match day the number of men in the bar out numbers the number of women in the bar. Only around 15-20% of the customers are female on a match day
- The most popular sport amongst the customers is cricket followed by football and F1
- Some customers do come in to watch tennis matches but its only restricted to the grand slam tournaments
- Cricket by far is the most popular sport in the bar and according to the owner it is carnage during IPL games
- The consumption of liquor and specially beer goes up by a 100% during a Deccan Chargers IPL match as its the local favourite team.
- During other teams IPL matches the consumption is up by around 60%
- The sports bars run a number of promotional events during match days
- Events like predict the winner etc are organized and the lucky winners are given away gifts and memorabilia by the bar
- A week before large events like the IPL or the world cup a well orchestrated media plan is executed
- Print media and social networking sites are the two mediums used to promote the events at the sports bar before a large sporting event
- The outlets take great pride in the quality and variety of food they serve, every month they organize 5-6 birthday parties for their customers
- On non match days a good number of people come for dinner and drinks and this includes a lot of women too
- However, the number of people turning up for lunch at the sports bar generally come there to chat with friends or colleagues during work hours and consumer very little alcohol in the afternoon. Even if they do its mostly beer.
- Most popular drinks in the bar are cocktails. On an average two cocktails are consumed per person and the next popular liquor is beer
- On a match day consumption of beer is really high
- Men opt beer on a match day as none of them want to get drunk during a match and want to the enjoy watching the whole match
- On an average customers stay for 1.5 hrs on a normal day, however, during a match day the group stays in the bar for the whole duration of the match and consume higher rate of alcohol
- Alcohol rakes in 60% of the revenue while the other food and beverages account for 40% is of the revenue
- A large portion of the food served by sports bars you can eat with your hands. They believe that most of the people who come in to sports bars are here to watch a match and they wouldn't want to eat with a fork as its distracting
- The reason for the owner to consider opening a sports bar instead of another bar or a restaurant is because the number of bars and restaurants in Hyderabad has almost doubled in the last few years and the customers are looking for a change and this is a new and attractive concept
- Some owners also believes that it is not difficult to attract customers into sports bars as the affiliation to sports is very great in our community
- Also with the immense success of IPL a sports bar is a good business option as the at the moment the demand for them is really high as the number of sports bars in Hyderabad is low
- Some sports bars call themselves a sports grill and not sports bars as they don't want to be just a sports bar as their pedigree lies both in providing a conducive environment for exciting match viewing and offering good quality food
- These sports bars also run promotional offers like buy one get one free during non match days to increase the number of customers walking in to the place
- Other promotional offers like happy hours is very popular in the Xtreme Sports bar franchisee, the time between 3 PM - 8 PM are generally promoted as happy hours during non match days
- In happy hours are run during the slump period right after lunch and before the night crowd kicks in to keep the place occupied
Findings In-Depth interview - Industry
- Women - 30%
- Men 70%
- Students - 45%
- Working professionals - 45%
- Families - 10%
Cocktails are the most popular drinks in the sports bars followed by beer. However, on match days during the match the customers prefer to consume beer as it is less intoxicating and they do now want to get drunk during the course of watching the match. Women, however, like to indulge themselves in wine and cocktails. Consumption of hard liquor like vodka and whisky is very little in comparison to other drinks. On an average people consume 2 drinks per head on a non-match day. Whereas, on a match day the average consumption per person goes up to 3-4 drinks per person as people continue to drink throughout the duration of the match.
Demographics of the Customers - Match day/ Non-Match Day
The number of men always outnumbers the number of women in sports bars. 70% of the customers are men and the rest are women on a normal day. On a match day the number of men is much greater and more than 80% of the customers are men. During match days the number of customer is almost double the normal level. A lot of the customers who come in on a match day are not regular customers. A lot of them are just sports fans and come in to watch their favourite team play and enjoy the ambience.
The location of the sports bar is very important. As sports bar caters to only SEC A and SEC A+ it is important that these sports bars are located near high class and affluent residential areas. Also the proximity to offices is an advantage as a good 45% of the customers who come into the sports bars are working professionals and the proximity would encourage them to visit their bars during lunch or after work hours. Also, the traffic congestion in these areas is considered before they decide upon the location.
Most women come into sports bar to accompany their male friends. Most of them are not really interested in sports and just come to chit chat and enjoy the services provided by the bar. All women groups in a sports bar a rarity and are seldom seen. On a match day the numbers of women who turn up are substantially lower than on a normal day. However, the women who do come on a match day along with their male friends show interest and enthusiasm in the match. Not many women were interested in cricket, but with the advent of IPL where the game is short and fast paced a lot of women who come in to accompany their male friends are also starting to show interest in the sport. A number of women indulge themselves in other games like pool, foos ball while their male friends enjoy watching the telecasted match.
Established sports bars have a turnover of around 60,000 per day on an average. On a match day as the consumption of food and alcohol is much greater the turnover for those days is well in excess of 1,00,000 per day. Most of the revenue generated is through food. The food to alcohol split of the revenue share is 60% and 40%. Though alcohol is more sought after by the customers, the consumption of snacks and appetizers during a match is never the less pretty high.
Cricket is by far the most popular sport in all the sports bars, and then comes football closely followed by F1. Though ODI cricket is popular it is the short format of the game in IPL that takes the cake. It's almost frenzy during the IPL season in sports bars. The turn around and revenues generated during IPL-2 has been way greater than during IPL-1. Last year Deccan Chargers the local IPL team had won the tournament. There are a number of football fans who frequent the sports bars. Sports bars are losing out on their customers as a number of these matches are telecasted after mid-night and the bars are closed by then due to the close time regulations imposed by the government. F1 has an elite fan following and according to the manager of Xtreme Sports Bar “During an F1 match though the number of people who come in is smaller than for a cricket match the average revenue generated is higher.”
Incentives for the Customers
Happy hour is a time when the bar is dominated mostly by students as the prices at this time are affordable for this segment of people. Bars run other promotional events like buy one get one free and these are all again done during the off peak hours to better utilize the property.
Most of the food served in sports bars is continental. Chicken wings and fish fingers are amongst the most popular dishes ordered. According to a bar manager “food which can be eaten with hands is sold most during match hours as the customer does not want to eat with a fork and distract himself from the match.” People like to munch on snacks while drinking and only have the main course after the match is over. So the consumption of snacks is the most and little or no main course is ordered during match days. This is the reason why a large portion of the menu in sports bars is of snacks and appetizers.
Insights from Primary Research
· Sports bars do well when the local sporting teams do well
· Sports bars need to focus on marketing themselves as sports grill, focusing on the food services apart from being a sports bar would help them sustain themselves during non-match days
Findings from In-Depth Interviews with consumers
Almost all men that I have interviewed consumed alcohol. However, the awareness of sports bars among the respondents is 100%. No respondent consumes alcohol alone. Consumption of alcohol at home is only on rare occasions like when they have parties or guests at home. Most popular places among them to consume alcohol are restaurants and bars.
Men in the age group of 21-30 are the ones who frequent bars and pubs often. On an average the youngsters visit pubs or bars once a month. They often go in a group of 4-8 and are mostly accompanied by women. Sports bar is a hit with this age group.
According to one of the respondent who is 24 and working in an MNC “what I love most about sports bars are the cool football mugs and cricket bat stirrers they have.” Apart from the decor and the ambience in the bars the little details like the sports goods shaped cutlery. Men mostly consume beer in a sports bar. They like the whole American feel to the place. Majority of the respondents went to a sports bar for the first time to watch an IPL match. They enjoyed the thrilling experience of watching a match with over 100 people cheering for the same team.
None of the women respondents were really passionate about sports though some of them have visited sports bars. However, all the women who visited a sports bar to watch an IPL match said they loved the experience and would like to go back again for another match. According to Neha Kada “I was never so excited watching a match, I remember watching the IPL finals between Deccan Chargers and Bangalore Royal Challengers. It was so exciting, after every six the whole place was going mad. I even hi-fived with a stranger after a Bangalore wicket fell.”
Older women however have not yet visited a sports bar but are aware of their existence. Mrs. Moorthy said “My husband has gone to sports bar a few times, but I really am not the sporty kind and do not watch any sports. I'd rather go out with my friends and have a cup of coffee.”
Half the women respondents drink and the common favourite drink is either wine or beer. Only 2 out of the 6 women respondents have visited sports bars and both of them are not real fans of any sports like cricket or football but enjoyed watching IPL. According to them they actually enjoy watching their favourite players (looks wise) perform well. None of the women respondents would like to come into a sports bar just to have a meal or drink.
Insight from Primary Research
- Men like to go to sports bar and watch matches because the whole place is filled with likeminded people who have come to enjoy the match and support a particular team.
- Men like to come to a sports bar to watch a match instead of going to a bar or a pub because they can dress down and come to a sports bar. They don't really have to dress up like they have to if they go to a pub. They can just walk in shorts and floaters and fit in perfectly. The focus there is to enjoy the match and not really to looks good.
- Most people who come to a sports bar consume beer. It is because of the association of sports bars to American bars and their style of drinking which they gather from media. Americans often only have beer in bars and this association is what is influencing them.
- The offers and discounts are only on beer and this induces the customers to consume more of it.
- Very seldom do people have a meal in sports bar. They like to order quick snacks like fries, burgers, chicken wings etc that they can devour along with their drinks while enjoying the match.
- Another reason for people to go to sports bar is the snob value they derive from it. People like to boast about the place where they saw the finals etc. It's about the memory and talk value for some people.
- Men enjoy the feeling of comradery they get when around 100 people are cheering and supporting the same team. This gives them the same experience of being in the stadium and watching the match.
- Women only go to sports bar to accompany their male friends.
- Women enjoy only 20-20 cricket as it is fast paced and has a short duration.
- During football matches, people in a sports bar virtually experience the thrill that arises out of a playing a match in a team. Customers team themselves and pit themselves against rival team followers.
Sports bars as a business and entertainment proposition has just begun in India. The lifestyle of the urban population is changing and bars and clubs are being socially accepted. People in India today are going out to eat and drink is only increasing. The need for a change in ambience and experience is growing. With the success of local sporting tournaments like the IPL the fan following and the loyal base would only increase as the years go by. It is up to the marketers and the entrepreneurs to capitalize on this growing trend.
This paper tries to study the evolution of sports bars in India. It tries to study the path the service industry has followed to have eventually evolved into sports bars. The study also tries to explain the different factors that are influencing the customer's decision making while visiting a sports bar. This paper tries to define the different segments of customers who visit the sports and the factors that influence their decision making. It also elaborates the consumptions habits of customers in a sports bar and the differences in their consumption patterns on match day as opposed to a non match day.
The paper also documents the system of operations of a sports bar. The investment it takes to open a sports bar and the various marketing activities they take up in order to run a successful sports bar.
Sports bars need to focus on marketing themselves as sports grill; focusing on the food services apart from being a sports bar would help them sustain themselves during non-match days. As noted from the information garnered by the In-Depth interviews with the bar owners and managers the revenue generated on match days is more than twice of a non match day.
IPL season which is the big money earner for sports bar lasts only for 2 months in a year. After this only a few matches happen which are of interest to larger group of customer every month. Due to this retail space of the bar is underutilized during the off days. These sports bars already focus on providing the highest quality of food to their customers, they also need to promote this fact whilst continuing to promote the sports bar match screenings itself.
Sports bars can have events like pasta festival or steak festivals which are in sync with their western image. This will bring in the crowd for lunch and will help the bars sustain the running costs easily and increase profits.
The option of subliminal branding and tie-ups with sports equipment manufacturers as mentioned above can also be explored
Limitations of the study
The primary research conducted with the industry experts like bar owners and bar managers is geographically limited due to which all the In-Depth interviews were conducted in Hyderabad. One of the biggest limitations is that the complete survey was conducted online and hence was limited to only people who had access to the internet. Also the questionnaire was administered to people only from the cities of Hyderabad and Mumbai, due to this the research was very limited and could not take into account pan Indian trends and perspective. The In-Depth conducted with the consumers was also limiting as they belonged to the same socio-economic strata. Also as the sports bar industry is fairly new the branding there is quite limited.
Scope for Future Research
All the above mentioned limitations can be addressed in the future researches. The study can also dwell deeper into the financial aspects of the sports business and the profitability of the business. The future research can cover all cities in India and understand the common trends in these areas. The future study can also plot the branding opportunities as the scale of operations of the sports bar increases and the local fan base become stronger.
APPENDIX - I
In-depth Interview guidelines - owners and managers
Understanding the scale of operations
- Tenure of employment in this place?
- When was the bar launched?
- Capacity of the bar?
- No of employees and their designations?
- Capital required to start a sports bar
· Annual/Monthly turnover
Understanding the customer profile
· Age group of the customer?
· The ratio of customer who are : students, working professionals, families
· Ratio of women to men
· Do women come in alone
The impact of live match telecast
- Difference in the number of customers on a match day
- Difference in the sex ratio
- Difference in the revenue generated
- Are women interested in sports
- What level of involvement do women have with sports
· Which sports are the most popular
· Difference in the profile of customers for different sports matches
- What promotional events do they have
- Difference in revenue through food and alcohol
- Average time of stay
- Why sports bar and not a normal bar
- What according to the owner are the differences
- Lunch or dinner which is more popular?
- Difference during match and otherwise
- Average consumption
Appendix - II
In-Depth Interview Guidelines - Customers
Understanding their habits
- What do you do for entertainment?
- How often do you go out?
- Where do you go?
- Who do you go with?
Alcohol Consumption Pattern
- Do you drink?
- How often do you drink?
- Where do you drink?
- Who do you drink with?
- Have you visited a sports bar
- What are the differences between it and a normal bar
- Why do you like sports bar
- What are the characteristics
- Who do you go with
- How often
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