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Britvic says forecourts need to “up their efforts to attract younger consumers”, the so-called generation Z

Britvic is suggesting five ways that will help forecourt operators boost annual soft drink sales by more than £4,900 per outlet.

Its “five-point plan”, released alongside its Soft Drinks Review 2024 on May 23, involves focusing on energy drinks; engaging with young adults; giving greater prominence to health products; thinking up new food to go bundles; and linking take-home products with meals for tonight and occasions.

The supplier says soft drinks are bought in 29.5% of forecourt visits, and that by increasing this to one in every three baskets, the 7,398 petrol retailers with shops, out of the UK’s 8,354 forecourts, could increase revenues from the category by £36m.

Key to growth will be energy, including natural stimulant drinks, which it says are bought by only 2.1% of forecourt shoppers. However, those who do are regular purchasers. Championing sugar-free energy drinks, merchandising them in prime impulse spots and linking with social media will help.

Also, with 63% of energy drink spend in forecourts taking place between 9am to 2pm, it says that there is potential to develop the homebound commute and evening trade, where it says lighter, more natural energy drinks such as Purdey’s have a role to play.

Forecourt operators also need to “up their efforts to attract younger consumers”, the so-called generation Z, says Britvic, with soft drinks spend by people aged 20 to 34 falling in these outlets from 18.1% in 2022 to 11.4% in the year to January 2024. Stocking brands such as Rockstar and this summer’s limited edition Tango Blast flavours, as well as the new Pepsi Electric, will help, it maintains, as well as engaging with this group on social media.

With 59% of soft drinks shoppers in forecourts saying they are “very health led”, operators should stock and chill health shots, kombucha, kefir and drinks infused with CBD, says Britvic.

Thinking beyond the traditional lunch-time meal deal will help increase the current 44% of current forecourt food to go missions that include a soft drink purchase. Britvic suggests targeting breakfast – with 10% of food to go missions in forecourts being for this time of day, it says. Pairing Plenish juice shots with cereal bars, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee with a croissant or other bakery line, are suggestions, as well as linking snacks with soft drinks.

And lastly, take-home soft drinks represent “a massive 45% growth opportunity”, it says, with potential to display multi-packs and larger sharing bottles in linked deals with pizza and ready-meals, for example. On average, shoppers are paying £10.44 for a meal for tonight with a soft drink, but only £7.18 in forecourts. The forthcoming Euros and Olympics will also unleash further potential, it says.

- More details on Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review 2024 will be included in Forecourt Trader’s soft drinks report to be published on June 12.