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Thirsting for more loyal guests? Try these beverage trends

Large restaurant brands today are drowning in data but thirsty for meaning. It’s easy for food and beverage directors to feel lost in the vast sea of positive and negative social media reviews about their menus.

To help clarify all this social feedback, newBrandAnalytics (nBA) just released a report highlighting the top beverage trends that are driving guest loyalty. This research shows how restaurants and hotels can use their online feedback, as well as their competitor’s social data, to ride the waves of the latest beverage trends to increase customer loyalty.

 nBA’s experts analyzed 40,000 social media reviews from 100 of the hottest U.S. restaurants, and isolated those mentions that included beverage references. As you’ll see below, we then separated meaningful from non-meaningful insights to identify specific trending beverage flavors that are driving guest loyalty.

So which wines, cocktails, beers and non-alcoholic beverages are sure to bring guests back for more? Here’s what we found. The most surprising geographic region getting hype on social for its vintage is Germany. Pours getting positive social buzz are champagne, moscato, riesling, and pinot grigio. Wine-based mixed drinks are also popular with sangria, mulled wine and mimosas in the lead.

Our data analysis found that the top trending beer flavors are Michelada (the Mexican beer cocktail), oatmeal stout, hazelnut lager and pear cider. Of course, classic beer staples such as Guinness and Stella never go out of style and that was backed up by our findings.

For those who prefer softer drinks, there are plenty of non-alcoholic sippers driving loyalty, including berry lemonades, horchata and the Arnold Palmer (the traditional iced tea and lemonade treat.)

A few shortcuts to making any cocktail more notable are to add ginger, and when in doubt, add tropical fruit flavors, especially to ‘skinny’ low-cal drinks.

Incorporating any one of these ideas into your menu could lead to a healthier bottom line. Our research found that 93% of reviewers indicated intent to return when beverages were mentioned, as compared to just 81% who indicated they’d return because of the food. So make sure you don’t forget about beverages when trying to increase your buzz on social sites such as Yelp, Open Table, Trip Advisor, Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, and Google Reviews.

To see how these food and beverage trends differ from findings from just a year ago, download last year’s report from newBrandAnalytics for free.

Jess Knight is marketing manager at newBrandAnalytics, a social intelligence company for restaurants, retailers and hoteliers. The company’s  approach extracts local insights from volumes of unstructured social media data, pinpointing specific ways companies can improve the customer experience. Its clients include Five Guys, Hyatt, Darden, Chili’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and more. Follow them on Twitter @nBrandAnalytics.