Spark sales with top-end mixers

Command a premium with quality soft drinks, say firms

Adding some festive sparkle: premium soft drinks and mixers are crucial to mocktails.

TIMES are changing, there is no denying. While there has been a well-documented move towards, and demand for, premium spirits in the on-trade, it’s fair to say the trend has also infiltrated the soft drinks and mixers sector.

This, coupled with a growing demand for low and no-alcohol drinks, means regardless of alcohol content, consumers are likely to seek out top-end drinks throughout the festive season, according to soft drinks firms.

Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “The Christmas and new year period presents a huge opportunity for licensed venues.” Citing CGA data, she added: “In 2018, consumers in Britain made more than 66 million out of home visits over the festive period.

“With one in eight consumers now saying they don’t drink alcohol, and half of those that do making an effort to cut down, it is important for venues to stock a wide range of soft drinks to match different tastes and occasions this Christmas.

“In particular, venues should consider stocking a wide range of adult soft drinks and premium mixers, with one third of consumers paying extra for a better quality drink over Christmas.

“In addition, 41% of consumers say they are more likely to experiment with different drinks over the Christmas and new year holidays, so licensees should keep an eye out for any new product launches in the run up to Christmas.”

Emma Hunt, marketing director at Vimto Out of Home, agreed, stating that while there’s “still very much a place for traditional soft drinks, consumers are searching for something special when they eat and drink outside the home”.

“We know unusual, adventurous flavours or textures that provide an experience make an evening out feel more special,” she said.

“It’s why we continue to innovate with our frozen drink brand, Starslush.”

Operators would do well to consider seasonal demands too when refreshing their soft drinks and mixers range, reckons Rosie Crossman, brand manager at Franklin & Sons.

“Consumer tastes often follow seasonal trends, especially as the colder months approach,” she said, adding that customers “are more drawn towards ingredients which provide a warm festive feeling, such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg”.

Chris Ewing, founder of Scotland-based Alba Cola, also extolled the virtues of a soft drinks and mixers range that’s in line with the seasons.

He said: “Over autumn and winter we suggest the Alba Cola serve is enhanced with a hardy herb, such as wood sorrel that will grow in the colder months.”

And stocking premium mixers can help operators up-sell drinks at the bar, reckons Ewing.
“Alba Cola is made with Scottish water and infused with heather botanicals, and offers customers an interesting, premium alternative to the big brands,” he said. “As a mixer it can highlight the heritage and provenance of a serve around its Scottish credentials – for example, with a Scottish rum or whisky.”

Adrian Troy, marketing director at AG Barr, reinforced the importance of capitalising on the region. He said: “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.”

Tips for soft drinks

soft drink


A varied range: stock both low and zero sugar options, as well as those with sugar to offer that all-important choice.

Serve with style: use quality glassware and garnishes to add a premium feel to your drinks.

Open up a world of opportunity with frozen drinks: iced beverages add something special to your drinks menu and provide a significant opportunity to drive sales.

– Vimto Out of Home.

Drinking less, but better: consumers are prepared to pay more for an indulgent beverage. This is helping to grow premium spirits and mixers. As such, operators should stock up on a wider range of premium mixer options.

– Coca-Cola European Partners.