How to maximise your drinks sales: soft drinks

Soft drinks should be appealing to both adults and children

Alcohol sales in the on-trade are on the slide, but the soft drinks category continues to go from strength-to-strength. So whether you’re running a bar, restaurant or hotel you need to make sure your soft drink offer has plenty of fizz.

If you’re not making the most of your soft drink offer then you’re missing out on vital revenue in a tough market.

Alcohol sales in the on-trade are on the slide, but the soft drinks category continues to go from strength-to-strength. So whether you’re running a bar, restaurant or hotel you need to make sure your soft drink offer has plenty of fizz.

Data from research firm Nielsen published in November 2009 revealed a 3 per cent growth in soft drink sales in the previous year within the on trade, compared with a 3 per cent decline for alcohol sales.

With soft drinks currently worth £2.4bn in total brewer sales, the report authors were clear in their advice: “Soft drinks should be a major focus for licensees wanting to expand their profits.”

Back to basics

Research conducted by Coca-Cola Enterprises, one of the largest players in the soft drinks market, has revealed that one in four people go into a pub or bar looking to buy a soft drink. With the amount spent in the home forecast to continue increasing, bars and pubs need to be providing a better experience than the consumer can otherwise enjoy at home. Soft drinks can play a huge part in delivering that ‘better experience’ due to their large contribution to overall revenue.

Martin Sampson, shopper marketing controller for on-premise at Coca-Cola, suggests a few easy fixes such as breadth of range, such as introducing a wider choice and adult and children’s soft drink offers where appropriate.

Energy drinks remain the fastest growing part of the soft drink market, especially amongst the 18 to 30 year old age range, and so shouldn’t be ignored.

Food and drink

Mintel research suggests about half of all food bought in pubs is consumed with soft drinks, much higher than the ratio of alcoholic drinks, yet rarely does any promotion or matching take place.

Sampson suggests that an opportunity is being lost and suggests that ‘the soft drinks range should be included on the menu, preferably with the brand logo and some product description alongside’.

“I’d also suggest you present meal deals including soft drinks as the food and drink landscape becomes more competitive, with the high street offering increasing competition for the lunchtime occasion,” he adds.

Within soft drinks, fruit juice is seen as the growth brand, compared with fizzy or water, with Mintel’s Soft Drinks Report predicting the category will see 12 per cent growth in the next five years making it the ‘biggest winner’.

Don’t price yourself out of the market

A survey of 1,000 over-16s by Mintel for its on-trade Soft Drinks Report, published in February, recommended a two-tier pricing system for soft drinks, with lower prices for draughts that offer better margins.

The call came after the research found resentment of soft drinks prices in pubs had reached 'critical mass', with 63 per cent resenting paying so much when they are so much cheaper in shops.

The pub-focused research also highlighted quality issues around draught offers with 29 per cent saying the quality of soft drinks is ‘generally not as good as in cafes or restaurants’, an issue all operators regardless of their style of operation or sector need to keep in mind.

Capture the public mood

Ahead of this year’s football World Cup, brewer AB InBev ran a high profile TV campaign under its market leading Budweiser brand to promote the ‘designated driver’ concept. With a number of councils across the land considering ways to curb alcohol consumption – such as Glasgow’s plans to introduce a rule meaning soft drinks only are served at closing time, there’s also a political, rather than simply sales, dimension to providing a comprehensive selection of soft drinks in your premises.

Read more articles in this series here.

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