Thirsty work

24/07/2012 - 09:57
Soft drink suppliers are gearing up for good year in anticipation of the feelgood factor surrounding events such as the Olympics and the possibility of good weather. Sheila Eggleston reports

Despite the recession affecting consumer spending, there has been no let up in soft drink consumption. It’s one of their must-haves but there is still a need to offer good choice and value for money.

According to the Britvic Soft Drinks Report 2012, total sales of soft drinks saw a value increase of 4% to £89.7bn and a volume increase of 1% for 2011. Last year the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton combined with the May Bank Holiday gave soft drinks a huge boost, and there’s no doubt the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics this year will have the same magical effect.

Cola remained the nation’s favourite soft drink with a 22% value share of the take home market. There was also good news in the cold hot drinks category with drinks such as ice tea. Figures show a value and volume increase of 45% and 24% respectively that was attributed to the activity by brand leader Liptons.

New products and pack formats, plus brand leaders splashing out on multi-million pound marketing packages have stimulated the market.

In partnership with environmental regeneration charity Groundwork, Britvic and PepsiCo UK’s ‘Transform Your Patch’ campaign across all its leading brands – Robinsons, Pepsi, Tango, 7UP, Fruit Shoot, J2O, Drench, Lipton Ice Tea, Mountain Dew, R Whites and Britvic – runs until October.

In this campaign, each product features a patch of grass representing 1sq cm piece of land that can be ‘transformed’ into spaces nationwide to give communities more access to outdoor activities, and there is point of sale material explaining how consumers can get involved.

Part of the £3m campaign by Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) includes adding a grape flavour to its Appletiser range as well as a handy sized 350ml PET bottle that it claims will tap into 45 million adult on-the-go occasions.

Other companies have also supported this attack on the impulse and adult on-the-go sector. Bottlegreen Drinks relaunched its ready-to-drink still range in 330ml clear PET bottles with a new subtle curved design and three flavours – pomegranate and elderflower, apple and ginger, and elderflower. Shloer has also opened up the growth opportunity for its brand by making its red and white grape variants available in single-serve 275ml bottles.

British soft drinks company Metro Drinks has increased its Folkington’s gourmet juice range to offer more choice and British provenance.

New is cloudy apple juice made from Russet apples collected from two Wealden farms in Sussex and Kent and a cloudy pear juice made from a blend of Conference and Comice pears grown in orchards in Kent, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Also new is Sicilian pink lemonade, which is “pinkified” with British raspberry juice, and cranberry juice made from cranberries grown in Quebec, Canada. The range has a 12 month shelf life and comes in single serve 250ml glass bottles.

“We extended Folkington’s range because our customers appreciate the provenance behind the juices and the quality it delivers,” says managing director Paul Bendit. “So we have taken the opportunity to find some really wonderful British fruit with which to make our juices and to also go to growers in Sicily and Canada for our lemons and cranberries.”

The company has also given its Latitude iced tea range a makeover introducing bright colours and quirky graphics to give it more shelf appeal, plus a new flavour – raspberry green tea, which joins the mango green tea, and lemon and peach iced tea.

The product comes in smaller packs of 12 rather than 24 and in a 330ml rather than the current 375ml bottle to help storage and stock management.

3V Natural Foods is another company that has transformed its best selling Rocks dilutable drinks into a ready to drink format in 500ml screw top bottles and its new branding carries clear ‘no aspartame’ messaging on pack.

Commercial director Russell Smart explains: “The launch of our range enables loyal brand followers to enjoy Rocks out of the home for the first time. Since the brand was launched more than 20 years ago, we’ve built up a strong relationship with consumers that want refreshment without all the additives.

“We’ve invested in research to gain a better understanding of the Rocks brand and to tune into the values that motivate consumers when standing in front of the soft drinks chiller.”

Its research highlights how consumers are opting for healthier food solutions and that they are seeking unfussy and less processed drink choices as part of their meal occasion. “It is clear that shoppers are wary of aspartame and other artificial ingredients that have become the staple ingredients in soft drinks over the past decade,” says Smart.

“For many mainstream brands a claim of ‘no added sugar’ is a marketing platform. However we believe the tide is turning, and that we can now amplify our commitment to traditional ingredients rather than the synthetic substitutes used by most other drinks companies.”

Pago’s new extensive range of 330ml PET fruit juices contains no artificial colourings, preservatives, sweeteners or flavourings, has a long shelf life and offers excellent taste and profit opportunities.

UK country manager Marvin Henshaw says: “Despite the UK’s high consumption of juice, we remain a very conservative nation in our choice of fruit juices, with the majority of the volume in orange and apple. While our taste for international food has grown, we haven’t really caught up in our choice of juice flavours.

“During the summer it’s the right time to excite the palates of our customers and consumers with our incredible range. How about a juice bar in the soft drinks section or a fruit juice of the month? I’m not saying that we should banish volume and value but let’s improve our retail proposition. There’s an opportunity in the premium juice drink category to provide real soft drink choice for consumers with attractive margins for operators.”

According to Friesland Campina, owner of the Yazoo brand, research has shown that over the last 12 months 72% of children and 56% of all adults have drunk flavoured milk, which it says is great news for operators who can capitalise on sales by displaying them in chillers for impulse purchases. The 475ml size particularly hits the spot for on-the-go consumption.

To ensure real standout in the chiller, Yazoo has undergone a packaging makeover emphasising its simple recipe and tasty flavours. The redesign reflects its healthy credentials and high milk content.
Trade marketing manager Helen Cridge says operators can really benefit by stocking up ahead as Yazoo can be stored at ambient temperatures for up to three months. “Out on the shop floor we would advise stocking it in the chiller alongside other popular soft drinks to ensure consumers can easily find their favourite among best selling products. As the milkshake category is continuing to grow, stocking a strong chilled range will help maximise sales opportunities, particularly among young adults looking for a treat to perk them up on-the-go.”

The company has recently launched the Shake Squad, a multi media campaign to focus on young adults. A TV ad is supported by social media, with fans of the brand eligible to enter a competition on Facebook to win one of eight weekly cash giveaways of £250 and a grand prize of £10,000 just by uploading their own Shake Squad style photo or pose to be voted on by other Facebook users in order to win.

It all makes soft drinks a cool option.

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