A varied range of soft drinks will be vital to taking advantage of the summer season this year, say drinks firms.
And the most effective ranges will be those that tap into consumer trends towards premium and low-calorie products.
Graham Carr-Smith, of soft drinks brand Qcumber, said it’s appropriate to “mark the change in the seasons” by freshening up an outlet’s drinks offer.
According to Carr-Smith, consumers are “always keen to try something new and interesting when it comes to soft drinks” and that the summer months are a “key period” for this.
There is money to be made from premium soft drinks, in particular, over the summer months, according to Razin Ali of Sunmagic, who said consumers are more willing than ever to “trade up” to premium products at this time of year.
This view was supported by Russell Kirkham at Britvic, who said consumers are increasingly looking for something “different and sophisticated” that doesn’t include alcohol.
Carr-Smith agreed, adding that “consumers’ minds are more open than ever” as they seek out soft drinks different to those available in supermarkets.
In fact, nearly half of consumers are likely to be looking for premium soft drinks this summer, according to Global Brands, the firm behind Franklin & Sons.
Quoting figures from Mintel, Global Brands’ marketing director Simon Green said around 44% of customers are now “likely” to choose premium products.
He claimed an increasing number of consumers select soft drinks “based on their desire for new and exciting taste experiences”.
And he advised licensees to ensure their premium soft drinks are displayed clearly on the back-bar.
When selecting a more varied range, CBL Drinks, whose brands include 1870 tonic water and Fruit Squeeze, said lower calorie drinks should be a top priority for publicans.
“We are a nation newly obsessed with our health, and today’s clued-up customer is becoming increasingly concerned with healthier food and drinks options,” said the firm’s Maurice Newton.
The importance of health was underlined by Emma Hunt, head of marketing at Vimto.
“Health, convenience, and the need for added value are key consumer trends that have impacted the category over the last year and they will continue to be an ongoing focus,” said Hunt.
“Increasing consumer health concerns have affected [buying] habits across all soft drink categories.”
Most important, however, is that operators make sure their soft drinks range is suited to their outlet and clientele.
“The key is for operators to understand their customer base and to tailor their soft drinks offer accordingly,” said Adrian Troy, head of marketing at AG Barr. “For many outlets, offering other flavoured carbonates and juices is enough, but for others these can be used as the main ingredients in mocktails, creating a bit of theatre in the process.”