With better weather hopefully on the horizon this year, added to an exciting line-up of summer events, such as the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, 2014 could be a record year for soft drink sales. Asian Trader reports.

SOLD from the fridges of independent retailers, chilled soft drinks provide the sector with the ultimate impulse proposition.

The impulsive nature of soft drinks purchasing means it is one of the most important categories to get right in convenience.

Although the category is established, it remains relevant to consumers as soft drinks can play a key part of their daily lives, both at home and on the go. While constant innovation keeps it fresh.

There are few categories that can be enjoyed at so many different occasions and touch consumers at so many points throughout the day, which is why the category is so important to independent retailers., proving itself in recent years in a tough environment.

2012 was a tough year for the UK soft drinks industry with real price pressures from higher commodity prices and disappointing summer weather. Last year, the improved weather helped sales, but the market was still tough.

Yet despite these conditions, the UK soft drinks market grew in volume and value, which underlines its importance to independent retailers.

With better weather hopefully on the horizon this year, added to an exciting line-up of summer events, such as the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, 2014 could be a record year for sales.

This summer’s big events will bring the nation together. Retailers need to think about making the most of these opportunities with eye-catching fixtures that are dedicated to a specific event or offering relevant promotions.




The soft drink category is generally defined by five sectors: Carbonated (fizzy) drinks, still and dilute drinks, fruit juices, smoothies and bottled waters, and sports and energy drinks.

Carbonated is still the leading sector, with bottled water and energy drinks the fastest growers.

Usage of carbonated soft drinks is high, standing at almost 90 per cent. Their appeal is highest among the under-35s and declines with age.

Thanks to its positioning as a cheap treat, and the trend toward consumers looking for alternative drink options as they limit their alcohol consumption, the carbonated soft drinks market has maintained resilient growth in recent years (Mintel).

Coca-Cola continues to dominate the UK take-home carbonated soft drinks market. Meanwhile, Pepsi’s cola brands, Pepsi Max and Pepsi Original, experienced impressive value growth over the past couple of years.

While both brands benefited from a considerable increase in in-store price promotions, Pepsi Max sales received an additional boost thanks to the cross-selling campaigns with Doritos and Walker Extra Crunchy Crisps.

A projected rise in the number of 25-34-year-olds is expected to bode well for soft drinks, this group being core users of the market. This age group appears to be a promising target for flavour innovation, being the most likely to be interested in new and unusual flavours of soft drinks.

Over the next five years, the market is expected to show steady value growth, with Mintel forecasting a 22 per cent rise by 2017, to £9.6 billion.

Value will continue to play a major role in the market.

But despite the pinch on their wallets, consumers are still opting to purchase branded soft drinks due to their strong credentials.

Every shopper wants great value, but whilst price remains important, most shoppers now think of value in broader terms. To some people, lowest price may still mean best value.

However, the majority balance the benefits of a product against the price to determine which is best for them.

Those benefits could be rational considerations, such as product quality or the functional benefits of a drink, or emotional considerations about which brand they would like to be seen with.

Suppliers and brands that understand their target consumers and invest in delivering meaningful campaigns, product innovation and pack formats that ensure the category remains accessible to all budgets are driving incremental growth.



PepsiCo's Matt Goddard on juices

Basics are key


  • Stock the best sellers, such as Tropicana, as these will attract customers to the chiller


  • Appealing displays and clear merchandising are key to improving sales e.g. bespoke PoS


  • Reserve chiller space for higher value chilled products rather than ambient


  • Multiple facings of best sellers will ensure availability during key selling periods


  • Stock a range of flavours to cater for various drinking occasions throughout the day


  • Offer a breakfast meal deal or a lunch meal deal




Carbonated & flavoured


Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) is still the leading player in the carbonated sector.

The 1.75L Coca-Cola range remains an important focus for convenience retailers as this format is ideal for consumers who are picking up their soft drink products from their local store for a summer evening ahead, particularly with sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup capturing people’s attention during the coming months.

In terms of immediate consumption formats, the 250ml slimline can format CCE has performed extremely well since its launch in July last year.

Over 5 million cans were sold by the end of October last year and has already added incremental value to the soft drinks category in independents and symbols since the start of the year (Nielsen).

Where possible, CCE recommend retailers stock this alongside 330ml and 500ml Coke formats.

Many shoppers are looking for ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while still enjoying the refreshment their favourite drinks offer, so light or diet soft drinks present a strong sales opportunity for independent retailers.

Currently around 40 per cent of all carbonated soft drinks sales come from light or diet variants, with sales worth over £1 billion to retailers last year. This figure is growing by +2.5 per cent and there is the potential for even further growth (Nielsen).

This year, CCE relaunched Coke Zero with the new ‘Just Add Zero’ marketing campaign that repositions the brand and will help to retailers boost sales.

Last year, sales of Coke Zero were up by +22 per cent (Nielsen).

New pack designs, which have been launched as part of the campaign, have strong stand out on shelf and are accompanied by a range of in-store and digital shopper activations to help retailers take full advantage of the consumer awareness generated by the campaign.

CCE have also launched a new on-pack promotion on future consumption packs of Diet Coke, offering shoppers that purchase selected packs a chance to pick up a free copy of Look or Now magazine.

This is about giving consumers a reason to take more ‘Diet Coke breaks’ and is being backed by significant investment to drive sales.

Fanta has had a successful year, growing by +11.8 per cent (Nielsen) and will be backed by innovation and a new marketing campaign kicking off in April.

Earlier this year, Fanta launched a new mid-calorie special edition Raspberry and Passionfruit flavour to help retailers capitalise on the growing popularity of tropical flavours enjoyed by shoppers.

In a first for Fanta, the new variant uses stevia to offer shoppers a new mid-calorie option.

A G Barr is boosting interest in the soft drinks category with a profit-boosting mix of big brand investment and innovative NPD.

In addition to investing a record £12 million in brand support in the run-up to The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, reinforcing its role as an ‘Official Supporter’, the company is set to broaden the appeal of fast-growing brand such as the Barr range and KA.

“However, the retail opportunity is not just for the 11 days of Glasgow 2014,” says Adrian Troy, A G Barr Head of Marketing.

“Our marketing activity will enable retailers to use A G Barr brands on their soft drinks fixture for six months to engage shoppers and harness the excitement which is already building around this memorable sporting occasion.”

A G Barr’s marathon brand support programme has already begun with ‘Cheer We Go’, IRN-BRU’s biggest ever on-pack promotion, giving consumers the chance to win a range of tickets to watch their sporting heroes in action at Glasgow 2014.

The promotion features on 2 litre, 500ml and 330ml packs of regular and Sugar Free IRN-BRU.

Meanwhile, A G Barr is giving consumers even more opportunity to enjoy a taste of the Caribbean with the reintroduction of KA Karnival Krush as a permanent flavour after its huge success last summer as a limited edition.

Consumers bought 1.2 million packs of the citrus-flavoured carbonate in just 10 weeks (IRI).

The new permanent flavour will be available in price-marked 330ml cans, 500ml PET and 2 litre bottles.

A G Barr is also enabling retailers to make the most of the fast-growing low calorie cola market with the launch of Barr Xtra Cola, a new variant which will be launched in April.

2014 is set to be a busy year for Vimto.

In April Vimto will launch a Nisa promotion for its Vimto 55p PMP 330ml Cans, offering a 2 for 80p deal.

The brand has also recently launched promotional packs on its squash and fizzy ranges in the Cash & Carry and Wholesale channel. Both the 725ml squash and 2Litre fizzy in Original and No Added Sugar will be available with a £1 PMP.

The price mark packs allow independent retailers to stock a popular brand with an appealing offer for impulse shoppers.

Vimto has a major multi-million marketing investment planned over the summer months that will give retailers the confidence to continue to stock the brand and help to encourage trial for existing and new consumers to Vimto.

The next phase in its Seriously Mixed Up Fruit campaign will see a new brand figurehead created by Oscar-winning Aardman Animations, introducing a new-look Vimto to mums. 

Redesigned packaging will also be unveiled early April, created to drive trial with mums by emphasising its mixture of three fruit flavours and availability in No Added Sugar to support healthier lifestyles.

The campaign will feature across TV, radio, social media, experiential sampling, trade communications and digital activity.

Levi Roots is set to enter one of the most exciting beverage categories in the UK with the launch of its first Still drink. 

Levi Roots Coconut Water ‘n’ Lime Still drink will be launched in a 500ml bottle format exclusively into the Impulse market from April, supporting growing consumer demand for coconut water, whilst building on the growth of the brand’s Caribbean inspired portfolio.

Latest research shows that coconut water sales have doubled in the past two years due to its association with healthy living, and the category is now worth £5 million (Nielsen). 




Merchandising advice from CCE's Dave Turner

Get the range right



Get your range right – Look to best-selling brands that are driving the category forward through growth and investment in marketing


Stay up-to-date with innovation – New packs for formats, like the 250ml Coca-Cola slimline can range, are set to drive further incremental growth


Focus on big events – The World Cup is a huge opportunity, so look to create dedicated fixtures that alert shoppers to products relevant to the at home occasion


Ensure your soft drinks fixture is easy to shop – Group sectors together i.e. Colas, Flavours, and use a minimum of two facings per SKU, three for best sellers


Keep your soft drinks cold – Last summer’s growth proved that people are looking for instant refreshment during hot spells




Juices, smoothies & squash


Given that 83 per cent (Mintel) of adults in the UK drink fruit juice, juice drinks and smoothies, these should feature heavily in any retailer’s impulse range, responding to the drinks’ established role in consumers’ diets. 

Tropicana is the largest ‘Not From Concentrate’ brand in the impulse market (Nielsen), and they are focused on working closely with independent retailers to grow their sales and unlock the potential behind the key occasions of Breakfast and Lunch, across take-home and on-the-go juices.

Lunchbox continues to present a key sales opportunity for retailers as the key meal occasion outside of home. Over 53 per cent of lunches now also feature a soft drink (Kantar) with 54 per cent of all out of home pure juice occasions being with a sandwich (Kantar), indicating the scale of opportunity for juice.

Therefore, the brand advises retailers to offer both innovative pre-planned and on the go lunchtime solutions.

Single serve bottles should be stocked in the drinks chiller, using clear point of sale to mark a promotion with the sandwiches to drive meal deal sales.

Retailers, say the brand, should also stock alongside Quaker Oat So Simple using pot clip strips to make the most of breakfast on the go.

Within the convenience channel, Ribena is one of the best-selling product ranges in the juice drinks sector with a value of £66.8 million and growing at +20.3 per cent (Nielsen).

This is largely driven by Ribena’s core range as well as continuous innovation such as the recent launch of the Ribena tropical variants.

The 500ml Ready to Drink (RTD) Ribena Mango & Lime and Ribena Pineapple & Passion Fruit have successfully enabled retailers to harness the sales opportunity presented by the exotic flavour sector, which continues to grow at +10 per cent year on year (Nielsen).

Last year, the brand introduced Ribena’s biggest ever impulse NPD with two tropical flavours; Ribena Mango & Lime and Ribena Pineapple & Passion Fruit.

This year, their first NPD launch for Ribena was the recent extension of the Ribena Plus range with an Orange & Mandarin variant.

This is being supported by a £5 million national media campaign including TV, press, PR, in-store activation and shopper campaign.

Responding to customers’ demands for health and value, two Ribena tropical variants were launched in a 99p PMP format last year, in addition to standard formats.

The latest data shows that PMPs have helped to drive value within the total soft drinks category compared to straight pack formats (Nielsen).

For health-conscious consumers, the brand's Ribena Light and Plus ranges are ideal products.

As one of the first juice drink products to be developed to fulfil consumers’ health needs, Ribena Plus has no added sugar and is enriched with vitamins; whilst Ribena Light has no added sugar, a consumer’s daily dose of vitamin C and is low in calories.

With a new flavour recently launched, Ribena Plus Orange & Mandarin, there is something for the whole family to enjoy within the Ribena ranges.

With space at a premium for many convenience stores, Sunmagic products are ideal for independent retailers in that they are all ambient and therefore only need be stored chilled when being merchandised for customers.

Sunmagic has a comprehensive branded range of flavours and sizes of 100 per cent pure fruit juices, 100 per cent pure fruit smoothie and juice drinks in the UK, and has just reported a record year, with sales up 15 per cent year-on-year for the year ended 31 December 2013 (Mintel).

The brand will be investing in marketing activity this year, to be unveiled in the spring, as well as unveiling two new ranges of product launches.

At the start of 2013, JuiceBurst relaunched its core 500ml range to include 14 flavours and a new Blippable label.

JuiceBurst was the first digitally interactive soft drink and was announced as the second most Blipped brand in 2013 (Blippar figures, January 2014), beating all other FMCG brands.

In addition, JuiceBurst launched a new range of 250ml bottles in July 2013. The new variants followed the same format as the recently redesigned 500ml bottles, containing 100 per cent pure fruit juice that is school approved.

Squash plays a significant role in the soft drinks sector and is key to helping to drive growth in independent retail, so it is a must-stock product for convenience retailers.

Investment from brands like Jucee is driving the category forward and encouraging consumers to spend more when shopping the fixture.

Jucee has established itself as a key squash brand by offering parents a value for money option for their children, and has experienced +16 per cent volume growth over the last 12 months.

The growth of No Added Sugar squash continues and now accounts for 77 per cent of volume squash sales (Mintel), and the majority of Jucee squash products are available in the No Added Sugar format.

One of the brand's recent launches is a 1.5 litre Jucee squash pack format exclusively to independent retailers which are available in a £1.29 PMP.

The new packs are aimed at retailers with limited shelf and storage space and the smaller bottles are easier for consumers to carry home from convenience stores.

Princes, which owns the Jucee brand, is well known among consumers as a leading juice brand, especially in the From Concentrate sector.

Princes launched a new range earlier this year, which aims to add value to the ambient juice category by taking best-selling flavours and giving them a unique twist.

The new 100 per cent pure juice products are available in Apple and Raspberry, Orange and Lime, and Apple and Pear variants, which all count as one of 'your five a day'.

A Cranberry and Lime juice drink has also been launched.

The new products complement the brand's existing juice range, which includes standard juice variants such as orange and apple.

Leading smoothies and juice brand, innocent, recently launched a brand new super smoothies range of functional health drinks. The brand claims they are the healthiest drinks they’ve ever made.

The super smoothies each combine the nutritional power of fruit and veg with seeds, botanicals, vitamins and minerals to make a refreshing option that is both tasty and healthy.

Each of the drinks in the range has a unique and specific health claim meaning they can offer people a smoothie with added health benefits when they need it most.

The super smoothies can be found in three different recipes: Defence, which aims to make sure consumers' white blood cells remain healthy; Energise, which helps the body to release energy from food; and Antioxidant, which helps keep cells fresh, healthy, and working as they should.

The brand new nutritionally powered super smoothies are all under 250 calories and are available in April.