Quality over quantity with softs and mixers

There’s no time like the present to capitalise on demand for premium drinks


THERE’S no denying the consumer demand for premium products, which has extended to just about every drinks category, including soft drinks and mixers. And so it makes sense to capitalise on the opportunity this affords the on-trade, soft drinks firms have said.

“Consumers are prioritising quality within their soft drink and mixer choices, with many willing to trade up for brands worth paying more for,” said Rosie Crossman, brand manager at Franklin & Sons.

This was echoed by Adrian Troy, marketing director at Irn-Bru parent firm Barr Soft Drinks.

He said: “When consumers visit an outlet to drink or to dine, they are willing to pay more for a premium offering, so a good choice of interesting flavours is essential.

“This is where premium soft drinks really come into their own, particularly among those who are looking for a non-alcoholic alternative.”

The industry is now expected to offer a diverse range of premium soft drinks.

The demand for premium products is also felt in the mixer category, according to Emma Cotton, marketing director of Luscombe Drinks.

“Consumer tastes are evolving and maturing,” she explained.

“The increased popularity of flavoured gins means that selecting the correct tonic or mixer match is essential to the consumer experience.”

Cotton added that “interesting and exotic” flavours have “revolutionised” the adult soft drinks market.

“As a result the industry is now expected to offer a diverse range of premium soft drinks with a range of flavours – some traditional and some more unusual,” she said.

“It is important to stock a mixture of mainstream and more unusual flavours in order to satisfy consumer needs.”

But with more flavours and variants available than ever before, it can be overwhelming deciding which products to stock.

Troy of Barr Soft Drinks reckons there are three “key drivers” behind the growth of the premium soft drinks and mixers category which operators should consider when updating their range.

“Health and wellbeing; taste and fun; and lifestyle and culture reflect changing consumer lifestyles, influences and needs in relation to buying and consuming soft drinks,” he said.

Consumers are willing to pay more for products which have innovative and
complex tastes.

However, Troy added that operators must consider their own customer base when updating any drinks list.

“Licensees can enhance their profits by talking to their customers and finding out what they want,” he explained.

“Consumers are looking for real choice and taste – and this varies by region.

“Soft drinks is the most regionally and ethnically diverse category and the key to taking advantage of this additional profit opportunity is tailoring both carbonates and stills to meet local customers’ tastes, rather than taking the ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

Taking a similar stance, Crossman of Franklin & Sons stressed that premium “now means more than just high quality drinks”.

“Consumers are willing to pay more for products which include less sugar, have innovative and complex tastes which elevate their drinking experience, have a strong provenance and also support British agriculture,” he added.