Parents looking increasingly to nutrition when hydrating their children in trade venues
Since pubs went smoke-free in the spring of 2006, more and more operators have seized the opportunity to welcome children into their premises.
Menus have been adapted to cater for young tastes, and some venues have brought in toys, puzzles, colouring books and other entertainment to keep younger kids happy while their parents enjoy some R&R.
The soft drinks world has changed in that time, too, as health has come to have more and more influence on consumer choices.
According to suppliers contacted by SLTN last week, it’s no longer enough for operators to view kids’ drinks as an after-thought.
“Parents are growing increasingly conscious of what they give their children and health, vitamins and nutrients are still the main focus,” said Alan Halliday, field sales director for CCE Scotland.
“Packing daily diets full of fruits and healthy snacks, parents are also keen to choose products their children will enjoy the taste of.
“This often leads families to opt for pure fruit juices or flavoured water variants when taking children out with them to pubs, making sure that they appeal to a younger market, whilst also providing them with the relevant vitamins they require.”
At rival firm AG Barr, home of Irn-Bru, on-trade controller Alan Hay said the range operators provide for kids should reflect that eating out in a pub or restaurant is a special occasion.
“Although one of the biggest consumer trends nowadays is towards value, on these occasions the most important factor is that soft drinks deliver on taste and enjoyment – if a child doesn’t like it, they won’t drink it,” he told SLTN.
“As children are mainly in a licensed premises as part of a family dining occasion, the choice of children’s soft drinks must be appropriate to drink with a meal.”
While health is an important consideration for parents when deciding what their kids should drink, the children themselves may have a different view.
That’s why, according to Hay, it’s important operators offer compromise solutions in the form of low calorie carbonates like Irn-Bru Sugarfree or still fruit juice drinks with no added sugar.
Hay stressed that operators should be careful not to overlook the views of children when making stocking decisions.
“Licensees catering for families must take children’s preferences into account,” he said.
“If children are unhappy with any aspect of the meal, the parents will soon feel uncomfortable, which impacts on how long they will stay in the pub or restaurant and therefore how much they will spend.
“A good choice of soft drinks, clearly communicated, preferably by showing product pictures on the menu, will make ordering much easier.
“Simple ways of engaging children, using drawing kits or puzzles, keep them entertained which leads to a more pleasant dining experience for everyone concerned.”
Parents are growing increasingly conscious of what they are giving their children.
Beyond health and taste, Hay said parents are also motivated by brands and value for money when making purchase decisions for their kids.
Operators, for their part, should consider how a product looks on shelf and its margin possibilities when deciding what to stock, he added.
Meanwhile, one supplier is urging the trade to look beyond fruit-based drinks, flavoured waters and carbonates when catering for kids.
Citing “healthy eating, affordability and product quality” as the key factors influencing parents when buying for kids, the firm behind flavoured milk Yazoo says it meets each of these criteria in a fast-growing market.
“Flavoured milks have exploded with an array of new entrants into the market (from 16 in 2010 to an estimated 30 for 2012), significantly improving choice for the ‘on the move’ consumer,” said Helen Cridge at Friesland Campina.
“The flavoured milk category continues to outperform the total soft drinks market, growing at 11.4%, and is forecast to further grow by 6.1% this year.”
Image: CCE has recently expanded its fruit-based Capri-Sun range with a new Exotic flavour.