And while operators often ensure consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to alcoholic drinks and the way in which they are served, non-drinkers can sometimes be left with a smaller selection of drinks to choose from.
According to soft drinks firms contacted by SLTN, licensees who don’t offer a diverse range could be missing a trick.
“The importance of soft drinks was highlighted in a recent CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) poll,” said Dave Turner, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises.
“It showed four in ten adults never visit pubs, with 40% stating the reason was they no longer drink alcohol or drink less than they used to.
“With the summer underway, this is a key time for on-premise outlets to ensure they are prepared for the months ahead and well-stocked with the right mix of soft drinks to meet their customers’ needs.”
The opportunities the soft drinks category present for operators were underlined by Alan Hay, on-trade controller at Irn-Bru and Strathmore owner AG Barr, who said consumers are looking for “choice and variety”.
Licensees should also ensure they display soft drinks prominently so consumers can clearly see the full range stocked, include soft drinks on menus and use point of sale material, which Hay said can have a “significant impact” on sales.
“Ensuring the delivery of a perfect serve drink is also very important,” he said.
“People buy with their eyes so if a drink looks good, they will be tempted to buy. Carbonated soft drinks should be served poured over a glass filled with ice, while bottled water should be chilled to perfection and served with a slice of lemon or lime.”
Serve is also a focus for Highland Spring Group, whose water brands include Speyside Glenlivet and Highland Spring.
“We’ve been focusing on broadening sparkling consumption by creating new serving suggestions such as our ‘Highland Hugo’, which showcases how sparkling can be used as a mixer in cocktails and mocktails,” said senior brand manager Scott Dickson.
“Overall, I would suggest managers think carefully about their consumers’ consumption occasions and tailor their offering accordingly.
“The right balance between product choice and an easily manageable range will maximise profit potential for soft drinks.”
Amanda Grabham, marketing director for soft drinks at SHS Drinks, which produces Shloer, also stressed the importance of range, advising licensees to offer a choice of flavours and styles as well as some seasonal lines and limited editions.
“There are so many new soft drinks brands and flavours being launched giving rise to new emerging soft drinks sectors, that licensees are missing an opportunity if they are just sticking to the basic cola, fruit juice, water options or not venturing very far beyond that,” she said.
Mark Young, CEO of Freedrinks, the firm behind soft drink brand Zeo, said: “Today’s consumers want choice so whether that’s fruit juice, water, energy drinks or a healthier alternative, operators need to stock a diverse range, including a variety of interesting flavours.”
And Mike Swingwood, commercial brand manager at Monster, reminded operators not to overlook energy drinks. “The 18-30 age group wants to enjoy a soft drink which is driven by a lifestyle choice and is different to the usual range of drinks available in the sector,” he said.