Soft drinks can drive sales this festive season, providing the offer is right
CHRISTMAS is typically a time of indulgence – and that most certainly extends to the food and drink choices made by customers frequenting Scotland’s restaurants, pubs and bars throughout the festive season.
With Scotland’s strict drink-drive laws in place, however, there are sure to be many ‘designated drivers’ accompanying those partaking in a Christmas tipple.
And it’s vital these customers are greeted with a quality range of soft drinks when they venture into licensed outlets, say drinks firms.
Christmas is a key period for the on-trade, with soft drinks a crucial category for profits.
Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), told SLTN that the combination of more adults choosing not to consume alcohol, coupled with the rise in designated drivers over the festive season, means “it’s particularly important for licensees to carry a wide choice of soft drinks”.
As well as catering to as wide a customer base as possible, a solid soft drinks range can also drive sales, according to Adrian Troy of Irn-Bru owner AG Barr.
He said Christmas “is a key period for the on-trade, with soft drinks being a crucial category for driving profits”.
Adult soft drinks and mixers are a popular choice with consumers and can help operators achieve growth.
“Consumers are looking for something special and are prepared to pay more for a premium offering when visiting licensed outlets at this time of year,” said Troy, adding that consumers “expect a greater soft drinks experience than they would get at home, especially at Christmas when they want to feel part of the occasion”.
Burgess agreed, saying that, although traditional best-selling soft drinks remain popular during the festive season, “consumers also look for ‘special drinks’ that capture the excitement of the holiday”.
These can include more premium brands, said Burgess, as well as serves such as mocktails.
And ‘alternative’ mixers should also be a key consideration, according to Andrew Jackson of soft drinks firm Fentimans.
To ensure operators are making the most of the sales opportunity that soft drinks present during the holiday season, Troy of AG Barr reckons licensees should “stock up on a broad range of well-loved soft drinks”; this should include “a variety of flavours – regular, low and zero sugar options – in addition to different pack formats to cater to all needs, including families with children”.
For many licensed outlets, offering carbonates and juice is not enough.
“For many outlets, offering 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 and catering to customers who do not wish to consume alcohol,” said Troy.
Taking a similar stance, Burgess of CCEP said low calorie and zero sugar options are a necessity now to keep up with changing consumer demand.
“For many people, the decision not to drink alcohol is one based on health, which means that lower calorie drinks are in high demand, and operators should also look to stock a wide selection of sugar-free and zero calorie drinks to cater for this need, including Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Schweppes Slimline Tonic,” said Burgess.
Consumers are looking for indulgent and well-presented drinks to accompany their meal.
For outlets with a food offer, ensuring a varied range of soft drinks is offered alongside any festive meal “can have a huge impact on sales”, according to Burgess.
She said: “As part of their dining experience, consumers are often looking for indulgent and well-presented drinks to accompany their meal, and a premium offering is essential to enhance these perceptions of quality.”
Top tips for festive soft drinks
“Ensure that your offer caters to those consumers not wishing to drink alcohol by offering a choice of mainstream soft drinks they love and trust, as well as some different, unique brands to avoid menu fatigue.”
– Adrian Troy, AG Barr
“It is important for licensees to start preparing and promoting their Christmas menus as early as possible… consumers will be looking to organise Christmas meals with family, friends and colleagues – and large gatherings require advance notice with more guests to co-ordinate.”
– Amy Burgess, CCEP
“Prepare and educate staff on the special food and drink menus so they can provide the best possible customer service and up-sell as and when appropriate.”
– Andrew Jackson, Fentimans
“Drive visibility by displaying soft drinks prominently and always include soft drinks on any menus so that customers can see the full range available to them.”
– Adrian Troy, AG Barr