A SIZZLING summer can bring many opportunities for the on-trade.
And while much of the focus will be on alcoholic drinks, there is also a real chance to grow sales of soft drinks – provided licensees are able to bring the category to life in their outlets.
The firms behind several of the country’s best-known soft drinks brands have said that by incorporating features such as dedicated soft drinks menus and a selection of premium serves, outlets can expect to see soft drinks sales surge.
“Operators should consider creative ways to bring their drinks range to life during summer,” said Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners.
“For those with outdoor space to take advantage of, licensees should be mindful of how they showcase their ranges outside the premises.
“This can be done by using menus that are laminated or displayed in plastic holders, while items such as sandwich boards, banners or chalkboards can help further highlight the soft drinks on offer.”
With premium products becoming increasingly popular with bar and pub customers, theatre and presentation were said to be just as important for soft drinks as for beers, wines and spirits.
“Consumers expect a more premium experience from pubs and bars these days so operators need to provide it if they’re going to persuade people to stay in their outlet rather than staying at home or visiting another venue,” said Russell Goldman, commercial director, licensed foodservice and leisure, at Britvic.
“This doesn’t mean elaborate drinks and décor of course – just great-tasting [drinks], served with style, efficiency and with a smile.”
This was echoed by Nick Yates, sales and operations director at Vimto Out of Home, who encouraged licensees to take their soft drinks as seriously as any other premium product they sell.
“Give your soft drinks as much consideration as a cocktail,” said Yates.
“Serve the drink in the right glass, with the right garnishes; it’ll help consumers to stay there for one more.
“Consumers are also willing to pay more for premium so by giving your drinks a premium look and feel you can improve your bottom line too.”
Soft drinks also have a role to play as ingredients in cocktails and mocktails.
Andrew Jackson of Fentimans said that incorporating soft drinks and mixers into these style of drinks is “an excellent option to maximise sales across the summer months with recipes that showcase light, fresh, fruity and zesty flavours”.
“Colour is also an important consideration with vibrant, bright hues appealing in warm weather,” said Jackson.
“Edible flowers and berry garnishes should also be considered to enhance seasonality and lift appeal.”
Mocktails were also highlighted as a summer sales opportunity by Adrian Troy, marketing director at Irn-Bru and Strathmore owner AG Barr.
“The key is to understand your customer base and tailor your soft drinks accordingly,” he said.
“They can be used as the main ingredients in mocktails, creating a bit of theatre in the process.”
And with health becoming an increasingly important consideration for some consumers, sparkling water can be used as an alternative ingredient in ‘skinnier’ drinks.
Carol Saunders, head of customer marketing at Highland Spring Group, said this has been a recent focus for the company.
“Tapping in to the reduced sugar trend, Highland Spring has been showcasing how sparkling water can be used as a mixer in cocktails and mocktails,” said Saunders. “Operators can help to increase sales of sparkling water by recommending alternative serving suggestions to customers.”