With our findings in mind, there are a number of behaviour change techniques that we see as potentially effective in developing initiatives, support, and interventions with licensed venues. From our experiences with venues in Dalston and the evidence around pressures and influences in the sector we feel that, just as is the case with individuals, employing several behaviour change techniques at the same time increases chances of success.

We have used the behaviour change technique (BCT) taxonomy developed by Professor Susan Michie from University College London and her colleagues to guide our thinking on the potential actions and activities. We have mapped the recommendations and activities that we think could achieve positive impact to the relevant BCTs here. In each case, activities and their design need to be driven by both customers’ and venues’ needs.

Our four recommendations are:

  1. Make the business case for venues to improve their offer to their non-drinking customers

Some pubs and bars already recognise and act on the changes we have identified in customer behaviour (lower alcohol consumption, increased demand for new kinds of soft drinks and lower and non-alcoholic beers). They can see the financial value in offering a wider range of non-alcoholic drinks. Sharing this information more widely, via trade bodies, drink producers or customers, should improve the offer by venues. This would directly impact the issue that prompted our research.

  1. Share ideas and best practice among the venues

During our research we saw many examples of activities undertaken by venues that we would like to see spread more widely. These ideas could be spread by the industry itself, and also by local authorities, in particular their licensing teams. A self-assessment process and award scheme for venues would be just one way of doing this. This could also include making it easier for venues to discover and stock alternative drinks, especially those that are already popular, or which would fit their business.

  1. Articulate a clear understanding of expectations from industry and local authorities, and demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like

The aim of “promoting sensible drinking” is not well understood at the moment. Local authorities, together with the industry, should set up clear expectations on this to venues. A self-assessment tool that venues could use to rate and demonstrate their compliance seems like the simplest way of achieving this, there should also be some peer or customer-led element to this, to give any solution the necessary incentives.

  1. Reward success

Relating to the previous points, and to add a further incentive for venues, all the relevant stakeholders could come together to find and celebrate the outstanding venues who are leading the way, in making themselves more welcoming to all of their customers, whether they drink or not. Award schemes to reward these venues could be set up both locally and nationally. A customer-rating element would make these more likely to be embraced by the venues.