SOFT DRINKS: LIFE AND SOUL OF THE LICENSED CHANNEL


SOFT DRINKS: LIFE AND SOUL OF THE LICENSED CHANNEL,

PUTTING AN EXTRA £61.6m[1] THROUGH OPERATORS’ TILLS IN 2023

  • Soft drinks are playing a vital role in driving revenues and profitability for the UK’s licensed operators, reports Britvic, growing by +1.3% and putting an extra £61.6m through outlet tills last year alone1
  • Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review 2024reveals thatdespite the difficulties of the past few years, the UK’s pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants still play a crucial role in our national culture, with 70% of people saying that going out for food and drinks is the treat they look forward to most[2]
  • The latest report from Britvic highlights the ongoing need for licensed operators to adapt to rapidly evolving consumer needs, balancing demands for value, indulgence as well as a healthier and more sustainable way of living

Licensed venues operating in Britain need to adapt to consumers’ evolving priorities in order to thrive.  That’s according to Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review 2024, which has revealed the latest challenges and trends shaping the industry. Britvic says that operators can unlock new growth by fully embracing the surge in popularity for soft drinks, which is not set to dissipate any time soon.

Operators are having to juggle a lot of consumer demands: one in three visits to the on-trade is now alcohol-free,[3] and three in four people (75%) describe themselves as “value-conscious”, a year-on-year rise of 4% pts.[4] Combined with the growing demands for indulgence, as well as healthier and more sustainable ways of living, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm.

Despite these challenges, Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review 2024 highlights the huge opportunities for licensed venues who are able to tap into those insights and re-evaluate their approach to soft drinks and the way they serve alcohol-free options.

“Some might see the falling numbers of people who drink alcohol and the high proportion of people that identify as “value conscious” as a challenge to long-term prospects of the licensed trade,” comments Dino Labbate, Britvic’s commercial director for hospitality in Great Britain. “Not us. We see these trends as opportunities to drive growth for our business and those of our partners, while encouraging healthier and more sustainable habits for society.”

The good news is that more people are eating and drinking in the UK’s licensed venues during the day, with breakfast, brunch and lunch occasions all increasing over the past year.[5] This presents a wealth of opportunities for operators to increase spend and encourage repeat visits by offering a wider range of low and no alcohol alternatives throughout the day and paying closer attention to how they are served. Serving snacks with drinks throughout the day is another key opportunity for operators, particularly as many are still feeling the pinch financially. Almost half of people (47%) who say they spend under £20 when they visit a pub, say they would be interested in seeing a snack menu.[6]

Britvic’s report also highlights that the number of people visiting pubs and restaurants at least once a week remains flat, as does trip frequency,[7] indicating that people are cutting back on spend inside venues.

Labbate continues, “Despite growing price sensitivity among consumers, quality is still as crucial as ever. That’s why we’ve launched the Mix with Britvic online platform – to make every drink (whether it contains alcohol or not) more memorable. This enables our mixologists to help bar staff stay ahead of trends and give them the skills to mix the perfect drink every time, using some of our best-loved brands such as London Essence Company, Teisseire, Pepsi, R. White’s and Britvic. We calculate that by adding extra flair to long mixed drinks, this can raise their value to as much as 40% of outlets’ revenues.[8] The rewards for operators are higher margins and elevated experiences for their guests.”

He concludes, “Ourlatest Soft Drinks Review indicates that the new generation of drinkers see sobriety as something worth celebrating and we’re seeing this reflected in the rise of sober events such as Dry Disco and Club Soda. As a result, we’re urging operators to rethink sobriety. There’s no denying that soft drinks are playing an increasingly important role in helping people choose certain venues over others.  Therefore, your soft drinks offering shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be your secret weapon that helps you stand out from the competition, attract younger drinkers to your premises and increase soft drinks revenues and profits.”

Top tips to help licensed operators tap into the key trends that are shaping soft drinks and hospitality right now:

  • Staff knowledge: Make sure your staff know your soft drinks range inside out like they would your wine selection – so they can advise on how they’re best served, food pairings etc.
  • Quality matters: Opt for premium brands to create drinks that cause a stir, whether they contain alcohol or not – everything from coffees and sodas to milkshakes and non-alcoholic cocktails can be elevated by adding exciting new flavours and dialling up the pizazz in their presentation.
    • Elevating hot drinks with shots of Teisseire flavoured syrups and toppings can boost margins by around 50p per serve.
    • Making house sodas more sophisticated with garnishes and quality glassware can add around £1 per serve.
    • Giving your cocktails a makeover could add a further £2 per serve.[9] Head to Mix with Britvic for inspiration for serves such as the Pink Grapefruit Paloma – a heady blend of tequila, pink grapefruit and lime juice, agave and London Essence Pink Grapefruit Crafted Soda.
  • Crowd-pulling drinks and events: Operators can attract younger drinkers to their premises and increase soft drinks revenues and profits by hosting sober events such as Dry Disco and Club Soda.
  • Provide attractive alternatives to tap water to avoid losing sales: Still and sparkling water solutions from Aqua Libra and cordials and flavoured syrups from Robinsons and Teisseire help encourage tap water drinkers to trade up, as does developing a range of house sodas (soda and cordial served in attractive glassware and garnished). 

The Britvic Licensed Soft Drinks Review is available to download on Britvic.com


[1] CGA by NielsenIQ –Licensed Market – Total Soft Drinks Britvic Defined, 30.12.23 MAT

[2] CGA by NielsenIQ – Cost of Living Consumer Pulse (1,006 UK&I Consumers) November 2023

[3] KAM Low & No 2023: The Customer Perspective

[4] Lumina Intelligence UK Pub & Bar Market Report- June 2023

[5] Lumina Intelligence Eating & Drinking Out Panel, data collected 12 w/e 15.05.22 and 12 w/e 14.05.23

[6] Mintel – Pub Visiting UK 2023 – Source: Kantar Profiles/Mintel, August 2023

[7] Lumina Intelligence Eating & Drinking Out Panel, data collected 12 w/e 15.05.22 and 12 w/e 15.05.23

[8] Hedonist/Mix with Britvic – CGA by NielsenIQ articles on sales mixes 2022/23

[9] Hedonist/Mix with Britvic – estimates based on menu analysis across 50x outlets comparing standard & premium options 


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