IT’S no surprise that summer is a big season for soft drinks, with sales soaring in line with temperatures each year – making money for both producers and the on-trade.
The firms behind some popular soft drink brands in the Scottish on-trade reckon this year could be a scorcher in sales terms and have offered some top tips on how licensees can make the category’s success their own.
Russell Kirkham of Britvic, the firm behind Pepsi and J2O, said that as the mercury rises, operators should “expect to see increased interest in your soft drinks range” as customers seek out “instant, refreshing and tasty ice-cold drinks when relaxing in or outdoors throughout the warmer months”.
To make the most of this opportunity, Kirkham suggested operators ensure their soft drinks range includes premium variants alongside standard options “to cater to the consumer looking for something a bit different during the summer events, and willing to pay more for it”.
Amy Burgess of Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) agreed that summer presents a big opportunity to boost soft drinks sales in the on-trade, and alluded to this year’s eventful calendar, and its potential to further improve publicans’ fortunes.
“Summer is a time when many consumers head to pubs to celebrate big events, including sporting tournaments like Euro 2016,” said Burgess.
“Operators can use these occasions to encourage customers to enjoy a more premium drink by creating themed cocktails to mark different events, highlighted by posters and point of sale to encourage customers to try it.”
Burgess said that with cocktails growing in popularity across the on-trade, there’s an opportunity for bartenders to “inject some theatre” into their soft drinks serves too – pointing to drinks trends on the continent as an example of how this can be done.
“In Europe, many consumers are personalising Coca-Cola by adding other ingredients, such as fresh mint, ginger slices or elderflower, to create their own personalised serves,” she said.
Capitalising on cocktail culture was also highlighted as an opportunity by Sarah Brooks of Purity Drinks, the firm behind blended botanical juice brand Firefly. “Cocktail and mixology culture is hugely popular and is naturally spilling over into the soft drinks market, with customers looking for ever more sophisticated mocktail options,” she said.
Kirkham of Britvic agreed that mixed drinks make for strong sales and suggested operators consider using their soft drinks range to create “more unusual serves” to both drive interest in the drinks list “and encourage trade-up within the category”.
New serves will no doubt excite some this summer, but publicans should also keep their eyes out for new brands, according to William Wilkinson of Overhang Drinks, who reckons fresh faces in the fridge help propel the on-trade along.
“New products are of course the driving force for an ever changing industry,” said Wilkinson.
Operators looking to stock new products would do well to look at current trends.
Nichols, the firm behind Vimto, said it has responded to consumer trends by boosting the brand’s no added sugar variants.
Emma Hunt, Vimto head of marketing, said: “Health, well-being and the demand for premium alcohol replacement soft drinks are key consumer trends that have impacted on the category over the last year.”