Two-thirds of on-the-go soft drinks sales occur between March and October so it’s a crucial time for the category. And although it’s obviously too early to comment on this year’s sales, Britvic reports a couple of good years last year its sales of on-the-go drinks were up 14%. And forecourts are doing well too. Indeed IRI total forecourts value data to August 2 (MAT versus last year) has sales of on-the-go drinks up 11.6%.
Colin Falconer, director convenience at Britvic, says key performers from Britvic include Pepsi Max. "Pepsi Cherry Max was launched last year in a 600ml size and is performing very well in forecourts," he says, adding that snack deals with PepsiCo brands such as Walkers have helped sales.
"Lipton raspberry and Tango blood orange are also doing well with strong listings in forecourts. Innovation is the lifeblood of the category and the forecourt sector is very proactive in considering and executing innovation in store," says Falconer.
There’s no doubt that one of the biggest trends in soft drinks is sugar or rather reducing its content in soft drinks. "Our aim is to lessen calorie consumption from soft drinks," explains Falconer, pointing to Britvic’s pledge to cut the calories per average serve across its portfolio by 20% by 2020. According to Nielsen data, reduced sugar and healthier options currently represent 23% of total soft drinks sales in the grocery multiples. These are worth £1.78bn and are growing at 1% year-on-year, which is ahead of market growth of 0.2%. And if people shopping in the grocery mults want these types of drinks, they’ll expect to see them in forecourt stores too.
The latest no-sugar drink from Britvic is Tango orange sugar free.
Kevin McNair, GB marketing director for Britvic, says carbonates remain the number one soft drink sector and sales are being driven by increasing consumer demand for lower sugar options, reflected by the 6.2% value growth of sugar free fruit carbonates in the past year (Nielsen). "With orange being the most popular flavour choice in fruit carbonates, Tango orange sugar free combines consumer taste preferences with a sugar-free variant, which will further strengthen our carbonates position," he says.
"We envisage that it will bring category growth by driving penetration among different shopper groups, attracting new shoppers to the category."
To maximise sales, retailers are advised to create a ’sugar-free zone’ at the fixture, merchandising by format and placing Tango orange sugar free adjacent to 7Up Free, with the same number of facings as those given to original Tango orange.
But Britvic’s lower sugar drive doesn’t end there. The arrival of Lipton Ice Tea’s new raspberry flavour coincided with a 30% reduction in sugar across all variants, meaning that the adult soft drink now contains less than 100 calories per 500ml. And the company recently launched reformulated ranges across Robinsons Fruit Shoot My-5 and Hydro. This means a 200ml bottle of Fruit Shoot My-5 is now made with 75% juice content and constitutes one of the five recommended portions of fruit and vegetables per day, plus it complies with government regulations on drinks in schools. And in line with all of Robinsons Fruit Shoot’s core range, the newly formulated Hydro flavoured spring water contains no added sugar, artificial colours or flavourings.
Falconer says another trend that forecourt retailers need to be aware of is premiumisation. "Consumer confidence has returned and they want a premium experience. If you look at premium NPD, it’s quite a strong performer. J20 Spritz has been very successful worth £2m after just 24 weeks on the market."
J20 Spritz is a gently carbonated soft drink, developed for 25-35-year old men and women who enjoy socialising and are looking for something ’a little bit special’. The premium product’s lightly sparkling liquid is achieved by using a much gentler carbonation process than that used in traditional carbonated soft drinks. Britvic says the overall texture is closer to sparkling wine or champagne, which appeals specifically to adults and pairs well with food. Available in 750ml bottles, it comes in three flavours: pear & raspberry, apple & watermelon and peach & apricot.
For consumers who like the original J20, there is a new limited-edition midnight forest variant, which is a blend of real orange and cherry fruit juices combined with an indulgent chocolate flavour.
Britvic says midnight forest will benefit from the strongest ever marketing activity for a J2O limited edition a £2m investment in a through-the-line campaign, running through to December, including in-store activity, digital, social media and PR. J2O will also be back on TV from November, raising brand awareness and helping retailers to capitalise on the lucrative opportunity that adult soft drinks present during the winter months.
In addition, Britvic has launched a J2O Midnight Experience through mobile phone app, Blippar, where consumers can ’blip’ the J2O midnight forest bottle or pos to reveal a bewitched clock. By simply tapping the clock, consumers can instantly win Amazon vouchers worth up to £500, access exclusive drinks recipes using J2O midnight forest or take an ’enchanted selfie’.
McNair says: "As the UK’s largest juice drink brand, worth £269m in retail sales value (Nielsen), we’re confident that J2O’s fantasy-world-inspired midnight forest blend will capture the spirit of the season and help drive adult soft drink sales.
"J2O has a strong track record in delivering incremental sales through limited-edition variants in winter the brand is chosen by over 2.5m households in the four week run-up to Christmas highlighting that winter presents a key time to launch innovative soft drink flavours as consumers increasingly look to try fresh and exciting combinations while socialising with friends and family."
Meanwhile, existing premium adult soft drink line Shloer Celebration pink fizz and white bubbly has just been the subject of a makeover. A new bottle shape takes its cues from the style associated with Prosecco sparkling wines, and reinforces Shloer Celebration’s image as the no-alcohol alternative at parties and other celebrations. The popping cork has been retained bringing fun and theatre to special occasions and Shloer’s premium quality is reinforced through the foiled neck, while the paper front and back labels have been replaced with a clear label to showcase the liquid.
Available now, new-look Shloer Celebration is backed by a consumer press and social media campaign throughout the autumn and in the lead up to the festive season. The ’Say it with Shloer’ social media marketing campaign, reinforces the brand’s association with gifting and social occasions, and in addition gives consumers the chance to win bottles of it in gift bags.
Britvic’s Falconer says at-home consumption is another trend that forecourts need to be aware of.
"There’s definitely an opportunity for forecourts to convert more purchases of take-home products the larger packs and multipacks."
Conversion is important to him: "The key thing for me in forecourts is to disrupt customers who are on auto pilot and convert them to purchase. That means using things like clip strips and parasite units around the store."
With regards to Christmas, he says forecourt stores should carry more things that might have been missed on the big Christmas shop. "Perhaps forecourts should be more flexible in what they stock and offer more ’wigigs’ (when it’s gone, it’s gone) deals and tap into sales uplifts."
Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises, says sales of Coca-Cola grow significantly at Christmas. "As groups of families and friends get together to celebrate, retailers may wish to focus on sharing formats during the festive period. The Coca-Cola 1.75ltr PET bottle is the ideal choice for catering for large gatherings, and retailers should consider keeping these chilled if possible, for those hosting a spontaneous get together where the drink will be consumed straight away.
"Multipacks of the 330ml can format are also a popular choice for social occasions at home during Christmas, as the individual nature of the cans means they are suited for one person but can also be shared with another."
IRN-Bru ? not just for scots
Often described as "Scotland’s other national drink", Irn-Bru is not just popular with Scots. According to Nielsen Scantrack volume sales data (MAT to July 18, 2015, total impulse) it is in fact the UK’s number one flavoured carbonate brand.
Adrian Troy, AG Barr’s head of marketing, says: "Irn-Bru is an incredibly strong brand in Scotland and we have invested heavily in the north of England in recent years where Irn-Bru is now drunk by one in four 16-year-olds. This has delivered significant growth in flavoured carbonates and this year we extended this support to a fully national basis which will continue this category growth. "
That support took the form of the ’Gets You Through’ campaign, which has generated over 10 million YouTube views plus the drink was voted the UK’s number one digital brand last year. Troy said this means Irn-Bru is engaging with consumers right across the UK, driving brand awareness and as such providing a really strong platform for national expansion.
Meanwhile, the latest activity for the brand gives footie fans the chance to win the ’Ultimate Match Day Experience’. In its first national football on-pack promotion, Irn-Bru is giving away VIP match packages for any Sky Bet Football League fixture or Ladbrokes SPFL match. In addition, consumers can win exclusive Irn-Bru branded footballs.
Says Troy: "Consistent investment in Irn-Bru has generated high shopper loyalty, driving incremental category sales. We advise retailers nationally to stock up on both the regular and sugar free variants to make the most of this phenomenal sales opportunity."
In the warmer weather, consumers are looking for cool, thirst-quenching refreshment but what about when the weather changes? Yes, many people still drink cold drinks but others switch to warmer beverages. However, this year the soft drinks’ manufacturers seem to be going out of their way to make their beverages appeal to consumers even in the coldest of weather.
Take Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS), for example, which describes its new limited-edition Ribena winter spice as a "a game-changing proposition". The no-added-sugar squash has an "intense aroma and unique taste with aromatic spices" which the firm says makes it delicious consumed hot and therefore "the perfect winter warmer". Already Ribena does well as a hot drink, with 7.4% of it consumed hot, versus a 2.3% average for the squash category as a whole. LRS reckons the new flavour will drive penetration and frequency within the squash category by targeting consumers’ ’me-time moments’ and capitalising on social sharing occasions.
Winter spice comes in in two formats: 850ml, rrp £2.49; and a price-marked 600ml pack (£1.69).
Jo Padwick, marketing manager for Ribena, comments: "Following consumer testing for Ribena winter spice, the new product received a 72% purchase intent score and 88% of those surveyed agreed that the product is unique. With the introduction of winter spice following the recent £6m marketing campaign to relaunch Ribena, we are confident that the new flavour will be incremental to the range 75% of consumers surveyed agreed they would buy winter spice incrementally."
The launch is supported by a £750,000 investment which includes a range of in-store pos as well as sampling activity."
Another drink using the winter spice name is Boost, which has launched an energy drink that’s infused with plum, clove and cinnamon flavours. Boost believes it brings a new dimension to the market and an exciting profit opportunity for independent retailers. It believes it will be a hit at all the celebratory events and parties that take place during the winter season, such as Diwali, Halloween, Christmas and New Year.
It’s available in 49p price-marked 250ml cans, in cases of 24. Pos material and sampling will support the drink plus social media activity will promote the product focusing on the hashtag #spiceupyourwinter.
Don’t forget Diwali
AG Barr is encouraging retailers to stock up on special price-marked promotional packs of Rubicon and Sun Exotic to cater for the demand this Diwali period (November 11).
Rubicon’s guava, pomegranate and watermelon flavours will be available in one litre £1.29/2 for £2 price-marked packs, while Sun Exotic’s pineapple & coconut, tropical and citrus twist flavours will be available in special one litre £1 price-marked packs. In addition, Rubicon mango is available in specially designed celebration packs.
"Diwali is celebrated by 1.2m people throughout the UK and has the potential to deliver £9m-worth of retail sales, presenting a tremendous profit opportunity for retailers," says Adrian Troy, AG Barr’s head of marketing.
"Rubicon is the UK’s number one exotic juice drink brand (Nielsen) and the number one soft drink for British Asian consumers (TNS Omnibus)," adds Troy. "The large pack sizes are particularly important during the Diwali period to cater for families gathering together to celebrate."
soft drinks activity update
Realising that 46% of consumers choose yogurt as a snack but only 8% buy it on impulse (Mintel data), Friesland Campina saw there was a clear opportunity to drive further growth and so launched Optiwell, a new yogurt drink. The company says the launch creates a new segment, which is aimed at adults rather than children. Containing no fat and no added sugar, but using real fruit juice, it has just 64 calories a glass. It is available in strawberry & raspberry and peach & apricot flavours in two formats; 330ml for people on the go and one litre for take home.
KA, the UK’s number one flavoured Caribbean drink (Nielsen data), has a new blackkurrant still flavour. Said to deliver a full-on flavour hit, it has 35% less sugar than the leading competitor brand. The new product performed extremely well in consumer research with 78% of people expressing an intention to purchase.
AG Barr’s Rockstar Freeze is described as an "exciting new variant which delivers an innovative cooling sensation". Available in frozen lime and frozen watermelon flavours, Freeze delivers Rockstar’s usual blend of caffeine, taurine and B vitamins that give drinkers a charged boost of energy, but combines it with a great cooling sensation. The drink performed very well in consumer research with over 80% of shoppers saying that they would buy it.
Innocent has been stepping up its NPD with the launch of two new products. Innocent Bubbles is a lightly sparkling blend of fruit juice and spring water in two flavours: tropical and lemon, lime & apple. It comes in 330ml cans, rrp £1.49.Then there’s Innocent Light & Juicy which combines fruit, water and a dash of coconut water to make a drink that’s 30% lower in sugar without any concentrates or artificial sweeteners. There are three flavours: orange & clementine; pineapple & lime; and peach & raspberry. All come in a 900ml carafe, rrp £2.39.
Grace Aloe Refresh is now available in a reduced sugar variant. The drink contains real aloe vera pieces, is gluten free and is suitable for vegetarians.
Special Edition Lucozade Energy Grafruitti, a combination of mixed berries and citrus flavours with an exotic twist, has enjoyed strong sales success. According to Nielsen data it is the best performing NPD in the sports and energy drinks category this year, delivering £4.8m-worth of sales for retailers in just five months.