UK stadium food and drink falls short of expectations

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A new study has found that UK sports arenas and stadiums are falling short of customer expectations and failing to keep up with changing consumer habits.

The research, commissioned by brand design consultancy Harrison and data experts CGA, analyzed the current food and drink provision in stadia across the UK in relation to changing consumer demands. Crucially, it found that when it comes to food and drink, over 50% of consumers rate the food and drink on offer at stadiums as ‘okay’, ‘poor’ or ‘awful’.

According to the study, 70% of the 12.1 million British adults who have visited a major sports arena in the last 12 months are male. Their average monthly eating and drinking out spend is £113.48 – 27% more than the national average – and just over half of them (51%) drink out weekly, compared to a third (33%) of the wider adult population.

Over 54% consider themselves to be foodies, against a national average of 49%, and more than two in three (71%) say they take a keen interest in food and drink. What’s more, 68% of stadia consumers say they proactively try to lead a healthy lifestyle and 69% attempt to live in an environmentally friendly way.

Despite having more disposable income, 42% of consumers considered expensive food and drink their biggest frustration when visiting stadiums, with 38% citing lengthy queues as a common annoyance, and one in five (18%) saying poor wi-fi service is a big irritation.

Commenting on the results, Philip Harrison, founder and marketing director at Harrison, said, “The findings from this report indicate three very clear demands from stadia consumers: better quality of food and drink, better value and better service.

“Some stadia – for example, Wembley or Carrow Road, in Norwich – are leading the way when it comes to expanding and diversifying their F&B offerings, but many venues have not kept pace with the evolution in out-of-home eating and drinking, and are falling well short of their customers’ expectations. The USA is ahead of the curve –  stadia events there can be an all-day affair and clearly there are best practises that need to be reflected in the UK.

“Stadia operators, retailers and designers must meet these changing consumer demands and expectations if they are to improve customer satisfaction and ultimately increase their sales in the years ahead.”

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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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