Me and My Brand: Charlotte Flook of Ribena

Charlotte Flook, Head of Ribena at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, describes how a well-loved heritage brand evolves with the market, innovates and thrives across the decades, reaching new non-HFSS sales heights

Charlotte Flook

Can you please give an overview of your brand?  

Ribena is a mainstay of the UK soft drinks category! We’ve been bringing our unmistakable taste to consumers in the UK for over eight decades, with our ever-popular ready-to-drink (RTD) and squash ranges. The great taste of Ribena is now available carbonated too with the Ribena Sparkling range, available our iconic Blackcurrant flavour. The other important point for retailers to know is that our entire range is HFSS-compliant, meaning they can stock all our drinks and formats wherever they choose to place them in store, and continue to maximise impulse sales.

How is your brand currently performing? 

The total Ribena brand is worth £120M1 and in strong annual sales growth of +7.52. Mirroring the ongoing trend towards lower-sugar choices, Ribena Light is now worth over £26M3 in its own right and has seen over 23 per cent4 growth in the last year.

How is the overall product category currently performing? 

Juice drinks make up 7.3 per cent5 of the soft drinks category, and are seeing 11.3 per cent6 growth. As the market continues to emerge from the pandemic and with lockdown restrictions now fully eased, on-the-go formats are performing very strongly in this channel too, up 26 per cent7 on a year ago. To capitalise on this growing trend, retailers should stock up on on-the-go Ribena formats – both core Ribena Blackcurrant, Light and flavours as well as single bottles and cans of Ribena Sparkling – to meet shopper needs, particularly with people spending more time outside in the warmer weather.

How are you supporting your brand? 

We’ve just gone live with a cheeky new campaign.“Chin Up” is rooted in those awkward moments which at the time make you want the ground to swallow you up (like returning a wave meant for someone else!) but when shared with friends, make everyone laugh. Ribena helps people keep their “chin up” through these moments and see the funny side, as well as linking to the physical action of taking a sip of Ribena. The campaign includes a brand-new TV commercial, online video, out of home, social media and in-store marketing, prompting shoppers to reach for the drink “when it’s Ri-bena bit awkward”. The campaign launched in June with a huge £7M investment, to help it reach 91 per cent of UK adults at least seven times throughout the year. You may have already seen it on a screen or billboard near you!

How important are independent retailers to your brand? 

Independent retailers are a crucial community for Ribena. On-the-go formats such as single bottles and cans are particularly important to this channel, although squash plays a key role in at-home occasions too. With the restrictions on HFSS products around the corner, we are working closely with retailers in the channel to help get them ready. The new rules will affect many categories in store, and keeping track of what you can and can’t display in certain places can be tricky. But as a brand we can guarantee our ranges are fully HFSS-compliant and can continue to be ranged anywhere in store as normal. Soft drinks are a key impulse purchase, and ranging HFSS-compliant drinks in high-traffic areas will really help drive sales this year and beyond.

What trends are occurring in the sector? 

As previously mentioned, we’ve been seeing a long-term trend towards drinks with lower sugar, as consumers become more aware of their health and wellbeing. There was a 44 per cent8 decrease in the sugar content in take-home soft drinks between 2014 and 2020, and the low- or no-calorie segment continues to outperform regular soft drinks, with almost 70 per cent9 of total soft drink sales. We advise retailers to stock up on lower-sugar juice drinks such as Ribena Light to capitalise on this ongoing trend. And as we said before, Ribena Light has seen over 23 per cent10 growth in the last year, confirming this demand. As we like to say, chin up!

Describe your brand in three words …

Refreshing, loved, unique!

[1]Nielsen, GB Total Coverage including Discounters, Value, 28.05.22

2Nielsen, GB Total Coverage including Discounters, Value, 28.05.22

3EXT IRI MarketPlace, Value, Latest 52-week data ending 26.12.21

4Nielsen, Ribena Light, GB Total Coverage including Discounters, Value, YOY latest 52 weeks to 02.04.22

5Nielsen, Juice Drinks, GB Total Coverage including Discounters, Value, YOY latest 52 weeks to 02.04.22

6Nielsen, Juice Drinks, GB Total Coverage including Discounters, Value, YOY latest 52 weeks to 02.04.22

7Nielsen, GB Total Market, Drink Now, YOY latest 52 weeks to 26.02.22

8Kantar Worldpanel

9BSDA 2021 Annual Report | Total Soft Drinks 2020| Share in % of Total Soft Drinks

10 Nielsen, Ribena Light, GB Total Coverage including Discounters, Value, YOY latest 52 weeks to 02.04.22