With the recent burst of warm weather (although it has since become very cold again!) we have turned our attention to soft drinks which offer one of the best rates of sale per sku over the summer, so, without question, retailers should make room for a vibrant mix of artisan and mainstream products, including a selection of ambient and chilled ranges. Soft drinks will always remain a buoyant and important category for retailers but the sku mix now is quite different from five years ago.
Whilst the premium adult drinks sub-category looks destined to grow, every day drinking trends are pointing towards more low sugar, low calorie, fruit-sweetened drinks. However, consumers are still seeking great taste and a combination of the difficulty in masking the taste of sweeteners combined with an aversion to drinking artificial chemicals is resulting in many people choosing naturally sweetened products even though the sugar content may be slightly higher.
As the old adage goes, a little bit of what you fancy does you good, definitely applies to the highly competitive soft drinks category. Flavour innovation, natural ingredients and products in glass bottles will continue to drive sales in the premium end of the category. Consumers are undoubtedly conscious of purchasing too much plastic and many producers are moving to 250ml cans to reflect this concern. At Cotswold Fayre we are no longer taking on new soft drinks suppliers who sell products in plastic bottles.
Interestingly, a decade ago, cans were perceived as being far less premium than bottles, but there is now much more acceptance of cans and cartons as consumers actively seek out more sustainable packaging options. Larger bottles also offer instant environmental benefits compared to smaller bottles, a message which retailers should be keen to promote. Limited editions and seasonal flavours will help bring more excitement to this important message.
Finally, keep your eye on the longer-term weather forecast and ensure you hold plenty of stock if a warm spell is expected. You would be amazed by the number of panic phone calls we have from retailers on a Monday morning who have run out of soft drinks over the weekend, when the warm weekend had been predicted for several days previously!