Sugar or rather the drive to remove it may be front of mind with soft drinks’ manufacturers, but they’ve a long way to go to convince some consumers that low or no sugar is what they want.

According to Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review 2016, impulse outlets (which include forecourt stores) seriously under-trade in low-calorie soft drinks versus the grocery multiples with high- sugar drinks (8g-plus per 100ml) making up 42% of sales in impulse versus just 22% in the grocery mults. The reason would seem glaringly obvious that the majority of shoppers in Tesco and Asda are mums shopping for the whole family (think reduced sugar squash) versus mostly adults buying ’drink now’ products in forecourt and convenience stores (think Red Bull and red Coke).

Medium sugar drinks (5-7.9g of sugar per 100ml) make up 6% of sales in the grocery mults and 7% in impulse outlets, with low sugar (0.6-4.9g per 100ml), accounting for 7% of sales and 11% respectively.

Sugar-free drinks account for 25% of sales in the grocery mults and 18% in impulse outlets, then there’s plain water accounting for 40% of sales in the grocery mults and just 22% in impulse outlets.

Whether the forthcoming sugar sales tax on soft drinks will change any consumers’ drinking habits remains to be seen but, at the moment, it’s definitely a case of people sticking to what they know and like. And many consumers are quite happy to stick to sugary drinks because they don’t like the alternatives typically artificial sweeteners that taste very artificial. And when manufacturers try alternatives they don’t always work sales wise think Coca-Cola Life, which is now being discontinued.

Despite a hardcore of soft drinks’ consumers choosing sugar, the manufacturers are still following guidelines and ditching the ingredient as fast as they can.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) says that since 2005, it has launched 28 new drinks with reduced sugar or calories and everything it sells has a lower- or no-sugar option. The company’s trade communications manager, Amy Burgess, says: "This underlines our commitment to helping consumers enjoy as wide a choice as possible, while enabling retailers to increase their sales by offering more options for consumers."

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) is accelerating its investment in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar as new data from Nielsen shows that nine months after its launch, sales in grocery and convenience stores are up 52% and, for the first time ever, sales of no-sugar Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke) are matching those of Coca-Coca Classic. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar sales have now reached £115m since it launched last June.

And, as it increases its investment in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, the company is phasing out Coca-Cola Life from next month. It says this will enable it to simplify consumer choice between sugar and sugar-free formats, as it continues to focus on growing and building Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke.

Coca-Cola Life, sweetened with stevia, launched in 2014 and although the company says it "built a loyal and niche following", it only accounted for less than 1% of the Coca-Cola trademark sales.

As part of its plans to grow Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, CCGB will embark on its biggest sampling campaign later this summer, with 11 million samples on offer across the country. The sampling will be supported by out-of-home, TV and in-store activity.

However, CCGB will continue to showcase all Coca-Cola variants in its advertising in line with its ’one brand’ strategy. From next month this will mean that Coca-Cola Classic, Zero Sugar and Diet Coke will all be featured.

Over at Britvic, managing director Paul Graham says they recognised the impact of the healthy living trend early on and, as a result, have led the industry in recent years when it comes to adapting to meet consumers’ needs. "We’ve taken bold steps to help consumers to make choices that are better for them, removing 19 billion calories per year from our portfolio since 2012. We will continue to keep our commitment to providing consumers with inspiring choices that deliver on taste at the heart of our strategy in the years to come."

The company has adapted its portfolio to ensure brands, including R White’s, Robinsons and Pepsi, offer lower- and no-sugar options that do not compromise on taste. "Today, the proportion of Britvic’s portfolio that is below the threshold for the soft drinks industry levy is higher than any other soft drinks’ manufacturer," he says.

In other no/low sugar news:

AG Barr has announced that by this coming autumn, 90% of its soft drinks will be lower or no sugar. This will include its flagship brand Irn-Bru. The company says the drink will still have its "unique great taste" but with less sugar: "Irn-Bru will remain a sugary drink. We are simply reducing the sugar level," it says. And for those who want the Irn-Bru taste but with no sugar, there is Irn-Bru Sugar Free and Irn-Bru Xtra. Irn-Bru Xtra is a new, fuller-flavoured variant, which contains no sugar.

Capri-Sun has a new no-added- sugar Orange/Lemon 330ml variant. Brand owner CCEP says the drink delivers a bold, refreshing fruit flavour. Launch is backed by a £500,000 digital campaign to appeal to the ’always on’ millennial consumer, plus there is an 89p price-marked pack to help boost sales.

Fanta has recently been relaunched with a new recipe for the Orange flavour that contains a third less sugar. Says CCEP’s Burgess: "The new recipe completes the brand’s fresh look and feel, and with one third less sugar the recipe is now down to 4.6g per 100ml from 6.9g sugar per 100ml, which follows on from a 33% reduction in the sugar content in 2006." Fanta Orange Zero Sugar will continue to be available for those wanting the Fanta taste without the sugar.

Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) pledged last year that all of the drinks in its portfolio will have 4.5g of sugar or less per 100ml (approximately a teaspoon) and these reformulated drinks will roll out from this summer onwards. Additionally, every brand will be available in a low- or no-calorie alternative. In total, sugar will be reduced across the portfolio by over 50%.

Ribena Strawberry 500ml and Mango & Lime 500ml are moving to no-added sugar, while maintaining taste parity, says brand owner LRS. The company says the move will unlock further potential for the two flavours, which are currently worth over £15m. It says Pineapple & Passion Fruit Light performed very well following its launch last summer, achieving +14% value sales versus regular Pineapple & Passion Fruit, indicating consumer positivity to low- and no-added sugar variants.

Shloer has been reformulated with higher juice content and no added sugar. The transition to no added sugar ingredients has been achieved through the use of real fruit juice to enhance the quality and flavour of the drink. There is also a new bottle design across the range.

Vimto Soft Drinks is venturing into the flavoured water category for the first time with Vim2o, a still spring water drink, flavoured with the Vimto taste but containing no added sugar. It’s available now in a 500ml sportscap format, which will be followed by a 250ml sportscap variant that’s perfect for lunchboxes, later in the year.

Vim2o is aimed at health- conscious consumers who don’t like the taste of plain water, but want to make sure that they (and their children) stay hydrated throughout the day without compromising on taste.

Emma Hunt, head of marketing for Vimto Soft Drinks, says: "As health remains high on the agenda, the no-added-sugar sector is also seeing major growth, but it’s one we think is currently being under-serviced. Consumers are not receiving the choice they deserve, hence why they are converting from traditional soft drinks to bottled water. "Vim2o is perfectly positioned to help retailers tap into this trend and fuel growth in the bottled water category."

Vimto will support the launch of Vim2o with a £1.5m above-the-line marketing campaign as part of its support for its wider portfolio.

Zeo has been reformulated in response to demand for a more refreshing, lightly sparkling fruit drink with no added sugar.

The range comprises four flavours (Orange & Mango, Cloudy Lemon, Peach & Grapefruit and Cranberry & Raspberry) in 330ml cans and 750ml bottles. Zeo is blended from naturally sourced ingredients, 75% sparkling spring water, fruit juice and botanicals, with no added sugar. Each drink contains, on average, only 10-12 calories per 100ml and already has a Food Standards Agency green traffic light for its total sugar content.

The brand has announced a year-long celebrity partnership with Caroline Flack, who in 2016 drastically reduced her sugar intake and spoke publicly about the benefits to her lifestyle.

She will become the public face of Zeo No Added Sugar.

Coldpress says it has created the world’s first HPP (high pressure pasteurisation) range of better-for-you soft drinks. There are two varieties: Strawberry, Apple & Watermelon sparkling water, which contains 46% less sugar than regular fruit juice and 38% fewer calories. It has just 64 calories and delivers 65% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C; and Raspberry, Pineapple, Apple & Pear sparkling water, which has 47% less sugar than regular fruit juice and 38% fewer calories; has 64 calories and contains 40% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.

Season for sales

May (hopefully) marks the beginning of warmer weather and typically an upswing in soft drinks sales. Mark Sterratt, head of market, strategy and planning at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, says that in a typical year, drink-now soft drinks benefit from an average 17% retail sales value uplift from June to August (IRI data), but the boost in summer sales for soft drinks actually begins in May and lasts until October, meaning there’s a massive incentive for forecourt retailers to get their impulse soft drinks range right, right now.

"Forecourt retailers should also ensure that their soft drink range is kept cold at all times. Customers may be less inclined to buy a drink if it’s not chilled, 70% of shoppers pick up their soft drinks from a chiller (him! data), so it’s essential to keep soft drinks cool to make the most of every sales opportunity."

Adrian Troy, marketing director at AG Barr, adds: "Don’t underestimate the importance of offering chilled soft drinks. Drink-now sales account for more than three-quarters of all soft drinks sales in impulse and consumers prefer these drinks to be chilled. Chilled availability is the key driver for soft drinks sales, particularly during the really critical summer months. Shoppers consume more soft drinks with water, juice drinks and other flavoured carbonates benefiting most. Forecourt retailers who adapt their ranges to reflect this, particularly in the chiller, will benefit significantly."

Share a Coke

Coca-Cola European Partners is bringing back its award-winning Share A Coke campaign but with a summer twist. Launching this month, the iconic logo on bottles of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke will be replaced by the names of the world’s top holiday destinations.Consumers purchasing a destination-themed Coke could win an unforgettable vacation to a dream holiday hotspot.
They can take part in the promotion by entering a unique code found on pack at

Pure Life can help boost your water sales

Retailers can benefit from the increased demand for bottled water by stocking well-known brands such as Nestlé Pure Life, which is the number one water brand worldwide and the fastest growing in the UK (Zenith), and by displaying them prominently in store all-year round, making healthy hydration the easy choice for their customers.
According to IRI data, bottled water is the fastest-growing category within the £7.5bn soft drinks market (plain water is up 10.6% in volume and 10.3% in value). The majority of this growth, 65%, comes from shoppers switching from other soft drinks notably colas, flavoured carbonates and juices which has been driven to a large extent by consumer concern about sugar.
Despite this, there is still plenty of room for further growth, as almost two-thirds of people in the UK (59%) still only drink just one serving of water or less a day, and 80% drink no more than two servings of water. Yet the National Hydration Council recommends men drink 2.5ltr of water a day and women 2ltr a day to help the body maintain its fluid balance.
Silika Shellie, head of category and shopper development at Nestlé Waters, says retailers can encourage extra bottled water sales by using signposting in store, in locations such as the till or the soft drinks fixture and with secondary sitings, including water in meal deals. By stocking well-known still and sparkling brands, she says they can ensure they’re meeting all shoppers’ needs.

retailer view

Mark Dance,
Toomey Southend
"We have two 4m chillers of soft drinks and 3m of ambient soft drinks. We’re probably one of the few places where you can pick up a ready chilled 2ltr bottle or a chilled multipack of cans, but they’re in our chiller because people want to take them home and drink them straight away. And we don’t mess around with our chiller temperatures; they are set the same all year round so our drinks are always nice and cold.
"We manage to keep up with sales during the summer months because we are good at replenishing the stock. We plan for promotions and for the weather but, because of the space allocated to soft drinks here, we do have the luxury of more facings. Best sellers obviously get the most facings.
"Our best sellers here are Red Bull the larger £1.99 can does well for us as well as the cans and 500ml bottles of Coke. In addition, the 275ml cans of Lucozade are selling well.
"We find that in the summer a lot of people switch from Coke to fruit drinks such as Oasis and Ribena, as well as water.
"There are new drinks coming out all the time and it can be hard to stock them all. For me, if Spar is promoting it or it’s from a company like Coke then chances are they are going to put a lot of advertising behind it and it will sell."

New strategy for bottled water

Highland Spring Group has identified four key drivers that could boost growth in the bottled water market.
Making water special: Highland Spring says consumers are interested in finding out where the product they are consuming has come from. It believes these qualities can be leveraged to elevate the relevance of bottled water during a variety of occasions.
Get the water habit: encouraging consumers to take a sip of water whenever or wherever they are is key to unlocking the opportunity for further growth in bottled water. Findings from the Natural Hydration Council show that 60% of the population drink just one serving of water or less a day, as opposed to the recommended eight servings.
My positive health choices: from inward health (mind, body and soul) to outward health (looking healthy), the positive benefits of water are key to category growth and bottled water remains the only product on shelf with no calories, sugar, preservatives or additives.
Doing it for the kids: making bottled water the drink of choice for all kids and their parents wherever they are and not just during summer will help build category relevance and value.
Highland Spring also identified the following messages for retailers, which it says are key to each category driver: Right Format, Right Offer and Always Visible, Always Available.
Carol Saunders, head of customer marketing at Highland Spring Group, says a relentless approach to visibility and availability of bottled water is key to driving category growth within retail outlets.

Get Refresh’d with Robinsons

Britvic Soft Drinks has added an on-the-go product to its Robinsons squash brand. New Robinsons Refresh’d is made using 100% naturally sourced ingredients, containing spring water mixed with real fruit, and is aimed at busy consumers looking for something different to drink immediately.
There are three flavour combinations: Raspberry & Apple, Orange & Lime and Apple & Kiwi. Each contains just 55kcal per 500ml serving.
Kevin McNair, GB marketing director at Britvic, says: "We know that healthy hydration is the fastest-growing segment in soft drinks, so the opportunity for retailers to stock new innovative options in this area is clear. Found in at least four out of 10 British households, we’re bringing the trusted Robinsons brand name to an on-the-go audience with this exciting launch that is set to shake up the category."
Robinsons Refresh’d is available in single 500ml PET bottles in cases of 12 and 24, including price-marked formats. The suggested retail price is £1.29. The launch is supported by a marketing campaign.

Animated pouch ad for Capri-Sun

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has unveiled a multi-million pound TV campaign for Capri-Sun ahead of the summer season. The creative introduces a new animated pouch character to drive awareness of Capri-Sun’s no-added-sugar range, highlighting how the brand is offering more choice to shoppers and in turn helping to boost retailer sales.
Running throughout 2017, the 20-second TV ad sees a cheeky animated pouch playing games with a family.
Simon Harrison, operational marketing director GB at CCEP, says: "The multi-million pound campaign is the latest piece of activity from CCEP that supports our zero- or low-sugar ranges. It demonstrates our ongoing commit-ment to supporting retailers, particularly as we move into the warmer summer months and consumers look for refreshment while on-the-go."

Juicy new look for Ribena

Ribena has a vibrant new packaging design across its entire range which, in research, has been proven to increase purchase intent. The new fruity Ribena look was a success in consumer testing, with purchase intent increasing significantly for the 500ml range, up by over 20%.
The use of the updated ’Juicy Since 1938’ logo aims to give the brand a contemporary look while acknowledging its well-respected heritage. And with 77% of consumers agreeing Ribena is great tasting, the greater fruit imagery and coloured bottle lids help distinguish the flavours, while still conveying the great taste.
The new design is first available on the 500ml format and will roll out across the entire range of ready-to-drink, carton and squash formats throughout the year.
The activity will be supported by a £4m media spend across TV, outdoor and social media. This will include a large-scale outdoor ad campaign.