FROM a straight soft drink serve to a partner for the likes of vodka or rum, cola is a kingpin of bars and restaurants across Scotland. But with the recently-introduced sugar tax now in force, coupled with changing consumer demands, operators would do well to keep apace with trends to make the most of the soft stalwart, drinks firms told SLTN.
Jen Draper, head of marketing at Franklin & Sons, said cola “is a staple flavour and always has been”.
Draper added that “with consumers becoming increasingly more adventurous in their tastes, it’s important that venues offer more than just the mainstream cola options”.
And particular attention should be paid to premium varietals, reckons Draper.
Echoing this view, Fergus Franks, on-trade marketing manager at Fever-Tree, said: “From our perspective, it is extremely important for on-trade outlets to offer a premium cola option.
“If a customer is already willing to spend money on a good quality spirit, why then pair it with a poor quality, artificially-sweetened cola.”
And as demand for dark spirits rises, cola’s role as a mixer is not to be overlooked, according to Franks.
“The twin trends of premiumisation and mixability are now well-established across the drinks industry and indeed are accelerating,” he said.
“We have identified the same trends emerging within dark spirits that led to the rise in premium gin consumption, including ‘premiumisation’, the growth of cocktail culture and the rise of craft distilleries.”
Therefore, Franks reckons that – from a standalone serve to a mixer – cola should always be served the correct way to capitalise on its popularity.
He said: “Much in the same vein of creating theatre around a premium gin and tonic serve, the theatre and experience is just as important for a premium mixed drink.
“A good glass, lots of good quality ice and fresh garnish are all essential tools to deliver a premium spirit and mixer drinks.”
Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), agreed that “offering a premium and high quality customer experience can build cola sales”.
“Attributes like premium packaging, great presentation and natural ingredients are an effective way of earning trust and advocacy – and that’s why the perfect serve is a proven way for licensees to boost their soft drinks sales,” said Burgess.