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March 24, 2023


On-trade & HoReCa market growth dynamics and how to find them

Martin Müller

Content Lead

Following the market growth dynamics is the key ingredient of success in the on-trade & HoReCa channel. Luckily, we have recently upgraded our Outlet Census BI tool with an indicator that can do exactly that. It is called Growth trend and in this article, we will use it to uncover market dynamics in the 5 countries we’re covering: Italy, Spain, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia.

Time-limited event: Try a free demo of our Outlet Census Live 2.0 on-trade tool. Get your hands on a tool Coca Cola or Heineken are using

How to categorize on-trade or HoReCa growth dynamics?

The Outlet Census growth indicator divides on-trade / HoReCa outlets into 4 categories based on their consumer engagement score and its growth in time. The consumer engagement score is the sum of all consumer digital interactions with the outlet like reviews or ratings on platforms like Google Maps, Tripadvisor and various social media. 

  • Champion - Well-established outlet with a high but still growing engagement. A rare unicorn and your sales team’s first target. These outlets presumably already have a steady consumer base and they keep attracting new ones constantly. 
  • Opportunity - Small, but rapidly growing outlets. They often opened recently and are still working on establishing their customer base. They may fade out, grow to champions or reach their peak and become steady. The key is to find them in this early stage and then reap the rewards if they become big.
  • Steady - Well-established outlets growing at a steady pace. They have most likely reached their peak. The growth is small, but the business is steady and well-performing. They may serve as the dependable backbone of your business.
  • Not rated - The rest of the outlets with either low engagement and /or low growth. It is typically advisable to go after these only after you targeted the previous 3. 

Why should you care about growth dynamics Champions in the on-trade & HoReCa channel? 

Champions are rare to find. There are a total of 46 477 Champions in our database of 826 224 on-trade outlets in 5 European countries - just 5,6%. They excel almost in every aspect, but especially when it comes to business indicators. See for yourself: 

  • 76% of Champions have the Top Food and Beverage rank. Only 25% of all the outlets on the market have the Top Food and Beverage rank.
  • 77% of Champions have the Top Local market rank. Only 24% of all the outlets on the market have the Top Local market rank. 
  • 99% of Champions have the Top Consumer engagement rank. Only 25%  of all the outlets on the market have the Top Consumer engagement rank.

The only thing Champions don’t excel at is the consumer rating, which is actually lower compared to market average. Only 10% of Champions have the Top ranking. Now compare that to our 5 countries’ average - a whopping 21% outlets have the Top ranking. But as we’ve shown before, outlet rating doesn’t necessarily correlate with business performance.

These results are consistent across countries with local variations like in Poland, where “Champion” outlets have on average somewhat lower consumer engagement but relatively higher rate of growth than other on-trade / HoReCa markets. We see this as a result of a higher rate of growth of the overall on-trade / HoReCa channel in Poland and higher importance of new growing outlets.

Could you tell a Champion just by looking at an outlet’s proposition?

Outlet Profile from Outlet Census Live with the growth indicator suggesting steady growth.

On-trade / HoReCa market growth dynamics by country

By analyzing our 5 markets, we will shed some light on the market dynamics in place by defining how many percent of the market is growing dynamically. First, a national comparison. We have analyzed our 5 countries’ share of Champions to determine their on-trade market dynamics. The results are:

  • Slovakia: 6.97%
  • Poland: 6.3%
  • Czechia: 6.17%
  • Spain: 5.61%
  • Italy: 5.60% 

Higher proportion of growing outlets may point to a less established, still evolving market. But there is a catch to that as the Opportunity outlets results look a bit different: 

  • Spain: 12.51%
  • Italy: 11.83% 
  • Poland: 11.65%
  • Slovakia: 11.09%
  • Czechia: 10.23%

If we add Opportunity and Champion outlets together as an indicator of the market dynamic, the final results look like this: 

  • Spain: 18.11%
  • Slovakia: 18.06%
  • Poland: 17.95%
  • Italy: 17.42%
  • Czechia: 16.4%

As you can see, the differences are not that big. There is not even a pattern of Southern vs Central Europe that we saw in our previous research. 

On-trade in Europe: 5 country comparison

We can therefore say that even though some small differences exist, they are not that huge to allow us to draw major conclusions. But a more interesting data landscape emerges after diving down into specific categories.

Finding the most dynamic parts of the on-trade / HoReCa market

In categories, the trends are more or less clear and consistent across countries. This information might help you determine which parts of the market are more dynamic and therefore with a higher potential for your on-trade & HoReCa product portfolio. Generally speaking, dynamic outlet categories benefit from higher consumer traffic, bringing your products:

  1. Much higher exposure
  2. Potentially higher sales

It is quite clear who’s leading the Champions’ League. Restaurant, Fast Food and Hospitality gastro (outlets like hotel bars or hotel restaurants) outlets are the on-trade / HoReCa market dynamics winners, while the least dynamic category issweet and baked”. There are some variations across countries but on the level of tenths of a percent.

These dynamics are likely driven by the covid chaos of the past few years that has hit the on-trade & HoReCa channel hard. A lot of accomodation places and restaurants had to close down, a lot of new ones were opened. As we’ve shown before, after one on-trade outlet closes, there is a 90% chance a new one will open in 6 months at the same place. The dynamics in the fast food segment point to the changing preferences of consumers who prefer faster and also cheaper food, which may be a result of inflation and other economic hardships. 

Follow the on-trade & HoReCa market growth trends

If you want to keep up with the market and follow its trends, you have to watch out for the on-trade / HoReCa market dynamics. Your product portfolio might perform well in “Steady” outlets too (in fact, these outlets might be your stable and reliable source of sales, forming a backbone of your business). But focusing on Champions is what will bring you the real growth and exposure for both your flagship and brand new products.

In SharpGrid Outlet Census Live, you can filter outlets based on their Growth Trend status as well as dozens of other categories, allowing you for example to select all Restaurant Champions in a certain region and focus your sales efforts on them. If you’d like to know more, contact our regional representatives.


SharpGrid is a data & tech company reinventing market research in the on-trade channel. The on-trade channel consists of POSs (points of sale) like restaurants or bars where food & beverage is bought and consumed, and is often also called HoReCa, on-premise, food service, out-of-home, gastro or immediate consumption (IC) channel, hospitality or on-licence.


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