Don’t neglect the list’s softer side

A well-served quality soft drinks range has never been more important to nation’s on-trade

Soft drinks

PERHAPS the greatest trend witnessed by operators in recent years in the UK food and drink industry has been the strong demand for quality products across different types of outlets.

And this trend has not left the soft drinks category behind as consumers and producers move towards more premium mixers and no-alcohol serves.

Therefore licensees that focus on the quality of their soft drinks range and how that range is served can cash in, soft drinks experts told SLTN.

“We recommend a range which offers pubs and bars a variety of alternatives, drinks that have their own signature serves but also offer an experience when consumed,” said Emma Cotton, communications director at Luscombe Drinks.

“It’s also advantageous to stock drinks which increase their offering, ie. are great as stand-alone drinks but also work well in cocktails and mocktails.

“We always suggest a good range of core flavours which are then joined by ‘guest’ soft drinks which change regularly. This helps to keep a soft drinks list fresh and appealing.”

We suggest a good range of core flavours which are then joined by ‘guest’ soft drinks.

The need to deliver a range of soft drinks and mixers well was highlighted by Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), who suggested social media is playing an influential role in shifting consumer demand towards premium products.

She said: “More people are turning to premium quality drinks and social media is having an impact, with people looking for trendy products they can photograph and share with friends on Facebook or Instagram.

“Investing in equipment such as cocktail shakers and mixers can not only help to improve the quality of your drinks, but also draw attention to the availability of premium options on your menu.”

The need for quality products, served well, was reinforced by Mark Bell, strategy and planning manager at Red Bull.

He said: “Driving consumer choice is the quality of serve – getting this right can have a significant impact on sales.

“Quality is key to repeat custom and increased profits, with 45% of consumers claiming the quality of drink is the most important factor when making a decision on a night out, and those rating their drink as ‘very good’, 2.35 times more likely to revisit a venue.”

Nichola Grant, channel marketing manager for Highland Spring Group, also reckons giving patrons a superior experience when they purchase soft drinks will ultimately lead to more business in licensed outlets.

The days of soft drinks just consisting of orange juice or drinks from a post-mix dispenser are long gone.

“The days of soft drinks just consisting of orange juice or fizzy drinks from a post-mix bar dispenser are long gone,” she said.

“Pubs which deliver a different experience stand to reap the benefits and help to keep their customers in the establishment for longer, make them more likely to return for another visit and recommend to friends.”

When looking at which premium soft drink brands to stock, Jen Draper, head of marketing at Franklin & Sons, stated that licensees should consider “both the heritage and provenance of brands” as the two factors were now key for consumers when choosing drinks.

She said: “Brands must be able to state the provenance of the ingredients in order to add another dimension and give consumers exactly what they want from their premium drinks.”