Me and My Brand: Becky Unwin of Vimto

Becky Unwin, Senior Brand Manager at Nichols plc, explains their portfolio of drinks, the astonishing success of Vimto’s rebrand and an expanding flavour range

Becky Unwin

Can you please give an overview of your brand?

Nichols plc is an international soft drinks business and the markets for our portfolio of innovative Still, Carbonate and Squash drinks span 73 countries. The most renowned brand in our range is the iconic and “refreshingly different” soft drinks brand, Vimto. We’re also home to other great products such as Levi Roots and Sunkist.

Vimto is a core brand in our portfolio and following on from our successful Vimto redesign earlier this year, we have also relaunched our core Vimto squash range, now fortified with Vitamins C&D. It comes as we also introduce a brand-new flavour of superfruit squash to our range; Blackberry, Raspberry & Blueberry, which taps into key emerging flavour trends.

How is your brand currently performing?

Our entire portfolio has been performing well, with Vimto outperforming the market and now worth a staggering £97.6 million and brand sales up +7.9 per cent YOY. Consumers have been gravitating to brands they know and trust to provide the quality and taste they love. This is further demonstrated by Vimto being ranked a top 10 brand in the off-trade across dilutables, RTDs and flavoured carbs [Nielsen] .

Squash is a core part of the Vimto portfolio and we see great opportunity for the Vimto range: during lockdown, the category returned to growth. In line with this, Vimto Squash is up 25.3 per cent (MAT) and 19.1 per cent YTD, outperforming the market by 10.2 per cent.

How is the soft drinks market currently performing?

We believe Soft Drinks will remain a key sales driver for retailers throughout 2021. In fact, the category has recently grown by +2.8 per cent in the Grocery & Impulse channel and is now worth £8.9bn. Soft Drink sales are likely to continue performing well as we enter the warmer months and restrictions ease. Consumers will be looking for easy and convenient on-the-go options.

The squash category has been performing well over the past year. Following the pandemic, total squash sector value sales have increased +15.1 per cent, with Vimto currently the no.2 squash brand and the fastest growing in the UK, with sales up+25.3 per cent. As the interest in “balanced lifestyle choices” continues, squash presents a unique opportunity for retailers to drive added value.

Do you have any new product development?

We’re particularly excited about our relaunched Vimto squash range in our contemporary new design. Having insight of shopper needs and preferences, we have also fortified our squash with Vitamins C&D. Alongside this, we are also very excited about the launch of Blackberry, Raspberry & Blueberry, which will be available in stores from April and performed extremely well during consumer testing.It taps into two key flavour trends – Blackberry and Blueberry, both with superfruit credentials that we know are particularly important for parents.

How are you supporting your brand & NPD?

At Nichols plc we are committed to offering innovative products in line with consumer needs and trends. Our Vimto squash range is a core part of our business and with tap water consumption and the healthy hydration need in growth, we want to offer choices in line with these trends which will see consumers saying yes to squash as an alternative option to tap water. We want to make sure that we are supporting the category with meaningful innovation that will spearhead growth.

Our category-driving innovation will also be supported by a £5m ATL masterbrand campaign across multiple-touchpoints, ensuring that Vimto is propelled into the forefront of consumer minds.

How important are independent retailers to your brand?

Independent retailers across the country are key to our brand – the Impulse channel currently accounts to 25 per cent of our total off-trade sales which is a significant amount. We really value their support and we want to help them in any way we can. At Nichols plc, we consistently share impartial insight on category performance to help retailers develop bespoke ranges which drive maximum value. Ensuring that the correct range of products are available can make all the difference between increasing or losing sales. We are also launching a brand-new sales activation in April, with the aim to support and educate retailers across the South East on stocking and optimising sales of Vimto products.

What trends are occurring in the sector?

As well as the conscious consumption trend, we also know that value for money will likely remain key for consumers and PMPs are a fantastic way to communicate value for money and build trust with customers. Price-marked packs should always be a consideration as a tool to provide standout on shelf, raise awareness of value opportunities for their customers and lock in sales. It is also worth thinking about both the rise of the at-home consumer as well as keeping an eye on pre-pandemic trends such as “on-the-go”. With this in mind, larger formats are a great way to encourage bigger basket spend. For example, sales of our Vimto Original 6pck format have performed well, having increased by +39 per cent in impulse, which is bolstered by the variety of our take-home pack portfolio including our Vimto 2L fizzy bottle and squash range.

Describe your brand in three words…

Playful, different, unmistakable.