Quality king in soft approach

Consumers seek to trade up across all drinks categories

Soft drinks
Consumers want quality drinks in bars and restaurants – and that extends to soft drinks.

AFTER two years spent either stuck at home or only able to visit bars and restaurants in a fairly restricted manner, consumers are said to be making up for lost time in the wake of the pandemic – and are seeking a quality, premium experience when they do so.

That’s been the broad analysis by drinks companies in recent weeks – and the same is true of the soft drinks category.

According to Britvic’s 2022 Soft Drinks Review, premium soft drinks and cocktails are “in more demand than ever after consumers traded up to expensive beverages at home during lockdowns, and continue to elevate their experiences in licensed venues with high quality serves”.

Acknowledging that consumers’ willingness to spend more on a drink may be affected by the cost-of-living crisis, the soft drinks company, which counts the J2O and London Essence brands in its portfolio, said the “value of a drink could lead a customer’s decision to purchase”, adding that value isn’t always necessarily about price, but “what the product offers the customer for the money they pay for it”.

A third of consumers said their decisions to purchase a drink will be led by quality, according to the report, while 21% said they would mostly be influenced by the value of a drink.

And over half (58%) of consumers said they would be willing to trade up to a premium soft drink if it was paired with a dish, which Britvic said offers opportunities to pubs and restaurants.

Katy Watts, head of channel development for foodservice and licensed at Britvic, said the higher margins on premium soft drinks can help operators “claw back some of the revenue lost during the pandemic”.

“Premium has long been a lucrative and growing drinks trend, as data in this year’s Britvic Soft Drinks Review shows,” she said.

“However, it is clear the pandemic has sped up this trend as consumers sought to treat themselves during lockdowns, gaining a taste for the best quality drinks they can afford, which they now want in outlet.

“On the whole, the pandemic did not affect consumers’ desire for premium drinks, with many opting for premium food and drink options to enjoy at home when they couldn’t go out.

“The desire for quality is here to stay, as 15% of consumers predict they will exclusively visit premium venues, showing up-sells can help to recoup lost revenue from the pandemic.

“As this year’s Soft Drinks Review shows, customers of all types of income are looking to have memorable experiences in the on-trade, having missed out on so much during the pandemic.

“It is important outlets provide a premium experience, not only in price, but through how drinks are presented.

“Extra profits can be earned by elevating a drink’s appearance, such as through garnishes or nice glassware. It can also be done by making something customisable, such as a house soda offering with a variety of flavoured syrups to add to the soda.”