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The role of the Internet in the marketing of independent public houses in the UK

Pratten, John D. and Schoffield, Susan C. (2007) The role of the Internet in the marketing of independent public houses in the UK. The service industries journal, 27 (2). pp. 125-137. ISSN 0264-2069

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Abstract

The traditional public house has undergone significant change in the last three decades, making the transition from a male dominated drinking venue to a modern leisure provider. Many independent pubs now offer a variety of products and services to a range of market segments. In recent years there has been plenty of evidence of independent pubs embracing the concept of marketing in response to challenging competitive conditions and customer demands. Many have been very successful at implementing innovative marketing strategies for attracting and retaining customers. Promotional activity has also increased but appears to have been less innovative, concentrating mainly on word-of-mouth and sales promotions. The complex promotional mix used by many commercial organisations is beyond the budget of the majority of independent pubs. Advertising through the media of newspaper or radio is also too expensive and therefore independent pubs may have to seek alternative ways of making the consumer aware of their location and the hospitality that they offer. This paper seeks to explore the potential of the Internet as a marketing communications tool for independent pubs. A review of trade examples and a mini case study are presented to assess the extent to which independent pubs and customers have adopted this technology. The advantages of using this medium are discussed and examples of successful use of the Internet by independent pubs are presented. The problems of time, cost and IT expertise are considered as barriers to adoption.

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