There’s profit in premium… why there’s never been a better time to serve premium products in stadiums

There’s profit in premium… why there’s never been a better time to serve premium products in stadiums


During a client meeting last week the subject of products and menu choices came up. We were discussing how slowly options have changed over the last fifteen years, compared to the last two. It would appear that the pandemic has been a dramatic catalyst for change - towards higher quality, more expensive products. But why?

Prosecco and vegan burgers are just some of the luxury items now available in stadiums

When I first started attending stadiums I was surprised by the lack of choice on the menu. It was usually one (crap Australian) lager, one cider, one bitter (definitely not cask) and one stout. There were no spirits, no coffee and the limited food on offer was barely fit for human consumption!Fast forward to June 2022 and I’m at a major sporting event… observing a thirty minute queue for barista coffee - which actually snaked past a food unit serving instant coffee at two thirds the price. The queue for the barista stayed long all day while the food unit served three cups of coffee (I know because I asked!).

Consumers now expect choice and a quality product - and are happy to pay extra and queue longer (although I find the queues very upsetting, naturally!) to achieve this.

Simon Greenhill runs upmarket bars made from converted horseboxes at the London Stadium, the Kia Oval and the StoneX stadium (Saracens). He has seen revenue soar since the pandemic: “Sales since the pandemic have doubled. A third of our sales are high end spirits and wines, and for about three hours on a West Ham matchday we are rammed.”

Asking my client about this, he was convinced that the accelerated move towards higher-end products was down to the covid lockdowns. According to research by Public Health England, alcohol sales from supermarkets rose 27.6% between March and June 2020 (lockdown 1) compared to 2019. Stuck at home, consumers tried out higher brand products in their supermarket shop, experimenting with taste and flavour. They like what they tried and have taken these new found tastes into the event market.

A luxury gin bar - at a London Football Club!

Simon Greenhill agrees: “I think tastes have evolved. Men are far more likely to drink a G&T or wine at the football now. Consumers everywhere have become more sophisticated, and stadiums need to recognise that or they’ll miss out on revenue”.

In conclusion, I believe there has never been a better time to trial premium products. My client has never been afraid of trying new things (he was one of the first stadiums to use SwipeStation - back in 2018) and last season he tested his theory by adding a whole roster of premium products - including Beaverbrook Neck Oil (at a punchy £5.60 a pint). It was so popular it has started outselling the lagers and he is expanding it across all the bars.

Would you consider offering premium products next season? If not, why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts.