Taste changes for the seasons

Autumn leaves a chance to try new styles and flavours

• Autumn is an ideal time to review a soft drinks range, say firms.

AS the days become shorter, the weather isn’t the only thing changing.

Soft drinks firms say customer tastes also shift with the seasons, and this provides an opportunity for licensees to refresh ranges and introduce new tastes and flavours which suit the time of year.
It also allows them to try out new styles and remove redundant stock clogging up their fridges.
Amanda Grabham, marketing director, soft drinks, at SHS Drinks, whose portfolio includes Shloer, said: “There is an element of seasonality to soft drinks sales and for this and a number of other reasons, it really is good business practice to review the soft drinks range at least four times a year on a seasonal basis.
“This gives licensees an opportunity to refresh the range regularly, taking out some of the slower sellers, trying out new styles and flavours and incorporating limited editions and seasonal flavours.”
The cooler weather will encourage consumers to switch to warmer,
spicier flavours, according to Simon Gray, managing director of Boost Drinks, which makes energy drink Gloworm.
“Taste palates do change with the seasons and the colder months see customers migrating towards more ‘warming’ drinks and flavours such as spice and ginger,” he said.
“All four of the Gloworm mixers can be enjoyed throughout the year with or without spirits. However, Pear, Spice & Lime and Ginger & Lemongrass are especially complimentary to the colder months.”

There is an element of seasonality to soft drink sales.

The new university term also brings its own opportunity to grow soft drinks sales, said Ben Chambers, co-founder of energy drink brand Supernatural.
He said: “With the student year commencing in September, Supernatural has a host of activities planned for Fresher’s fayres, with the student market proving to be an ideal opportunity for autumn.”
And it’s not just the changing weather that can influence sales.
Some firms, such as AG Barr, the company behind Irn-Bru, Rubicon, Strathmore water and Rockstar drinks, target key occasions or festivals during the winter months.
Alan Hay, on-trade controller with the firm, said: “Rather than changing specifically with the seasons, we’ve found the variation to be more in line with occasions such as Halloween, when more unusual drink mixes are popular, and Christmas, when mocktails are more readily available and sell very well.
“Occasions provide outlets with an opportunity to expand their drinks menus.”
It isn’t just flavoured soft drinks that can benefit from the turn of the season, say firms.
The potential to position sparkling water as a luxury item provides an opportunity to increase revenues, said Scott Dickson, senior brand manager at Highland Spring Group.
“We’ve been focusing on broadening sparkling consumption by creating new serving suggestions, such as our Highland Hugo, showcasing how sparkling water can be used as a mixer in cocktails and mocktails,” said Dickson.
“Creating new serving options for consumers during the festive season, will definitely help increase profits as this is seen as a premium time for treats.”
Stephen Charles, managing director of water dispense specialist Vivreau, said a trend towards carbonated cocktails makes sparkling water “extremely useful” to licensees.
And there is potential to grow soft drinks sales through appealing to health-conscious consumers, said Graham Carr-Smith of soft drink brand Qcumber.
“Consumers are also looking for ‘natural’ products and people are wary of the word ‘artificial’ when it comes to food and drink,” he said.