There’s more to the festive season than Christmas beers, wines and spirits.
Non-drinkers, however, still need to feel as if they are part of the party come the celebrations.
And the need for operators to provide alcohol-free alternatives for designated drivers has become even more vital since the lowering of the Scottish drink-drive limit last December.
The potential for licensees to increase soft drinks sales in the coming weeks is, therefore, significant, according to soft drinks firms.
Russell Kirkham of Britvic Soft Drinks advised licensees to offer seasonal soft drink serves and ‘mocktails’.
“Our portfolio is well-suited to making festive non-alcoholic cocktails that stand out and catch the attention of those looking for an alcohol alternative,” he said.
“The pub becomes an even bigger focus at Christmas as the festive celebrations ramp up and mixed group social occasions increase. During the festive period, a drink with friends is more likely to turn into a big night out so don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase sharing offers such as pitchers of cocktails and mocktails to suit a variety of tastes.
“Ensure you dedicate prominent fridge space to your festive soft drinks offering to encourage designated drivers and those drinking less alcohol to trade up from their usual choices.”
The “huge” opportunity for operators to grow soft drinks sales over the coming weeks was underlined by Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE). However, if operators are to capitalise on the opportunity, delivering the ‘perfect serve’ is vital, Burgess said.
“As Christmas is a time for celebration, we’re expecting people to look towards ‘special’ drinks that capture the excitement of the season,” she said. “Great presentation can play an important role in encouraging people to order soft drinks in restaurants, and this is important at a time when people are in a celebratory mood at Christmas time.”
Alan Hay, on-trade controller at AG Barr, whose range includes Irn-Bru and Strathmore, agreed that presentation is key to boosting soft drinks sales, saying consumers are “prepared to pay more for a premium offering” at this time of year.
“Licensees should always ensure soft drinks are served in a way that will enhance the customer’s experience during the festive period,” said Hay.
“Carbonated soft drinks should be served chilled and poured over ice, while bottled water should be chilled to perfection and served with a slice of lemon or lime. There is also an increased demand for mocktails at Christmas as non-drinkers want to feel part of the occasion and mocktails provide the perfect solution.”
Renaming drinks can also add some sparkle, according to Simon Green at Global Brands, whose portfolio includes Franklin & Sons.
“Festive mocktails are a perfect way to shed light on new and exciting soft drink flavours,” he said.
“Adding a seasonal spin on a classic cocktail name is an excellent way to attract more customers to sway towards purchasing cocktails during the festive period.”