A soft Christmas

Health trends and increasing consumer sophistication provide two touchstones in targeting sales as the soft drinks industry comes to terms with and prevails over the sugar tax. We review the soft drinks & mixers market as it enters the high-sales Christmas period.

Christmas is synonymous with soft drinks sales but now there’s so much more by way of choice for the consumer, who has not been found wanting in demanding a greater and healthier variety of soft drink and a more sophisticated offering from the soft drink manufacturer.

Soft drinks come into their own at this time of year with ‘niche’ brands witnessing a satisfying growth in sales, filling out the margins in the ‘healthy’, ‘sugar-free’ and ‘light in calories’ segment of the market.

The rise of health-conscious consumers seeking calorie-light carbonated soft drinks and other such drinks has helped drive the soft drinks industry further along the road in a direction that it was already going in.

Last April saw the Minister for Finance introduce a sugar tax, as promised, which added 30 Cent per litre to soft drinks having over eight grammes of sugar per 100ml and 20 Cent per litre to those containing between five and eight grammes per 100ml.

Range reformulation has been rife among manufacturers over the last few years so it has not been confined to just the post-sugar tax era.

Nielsen’s Review of last Xmas found carbonated soft drinks sales up €2.8 million for the eight weeks before Christmas Day itself.

Coca-Cola was second only to Guinness in Nielsen’s Top 10 Fast Moving Consumer Goods brand advertisers in the November-December period with Pepsi/7Up Free coming in in fifth place and Schweppes Tonic in eighth place.

Nielsen also found that larger packs performed strongly at Christmas. For example larger format carbonated soft drinks found their share running at 18% in this period where it would normally take just 9% of the category’s value.

This particular spending period is recognised by leading brands as being the time to promote heavily with more return than at other times of the year.

For example Schweppes embarked on a highly-visible in-store and outdoor ‘Jingle & Tonic’ promotion. With Schweppes’ media spend up 22%, availability up 17% (and price up 22%), the brand witnessed a sales increase of 25%, four times the 7% increase recorded for the rest of the year.


Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver campaign returns to encourage nation to give ‘Gift of a Lift’ this Christmas

Designated drivers can now avail of two free soft drinks from the range including Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola zero sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Schweppes, 1783, Deep RiverRock, Fruice and Appletiser following Coca-Cola HBC Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s launch of  its 14th annual Designated Driver campaign, encouraging the nation to give the ‘Gift of a Lift’ this Christmas to help keep our roads safe and alcohol-free.

The award-winning campaign that gives free soft drinks, water or juice to designated drivers went live from 1st December with a number of social media influencers lending their support.

The influencers will take their turn as Designated Driver for a night over the festive period and will also shine a light on their friends or loved ones going the extra mile to return the favour.

“We strive to make the occasion a more rewarding one for those who ensure their loved ones get home safely – and we’re delighted to continue our support of road safety this December by providing free drinks from our range to these consumers,” said Matt Tisdall, Coca-Cola HBC’s Sales Director, “This year, we’ll also shine a light on the importance and generosity of designated drivers at Christmas time. This will be achieved through our social influencer strategy to make the campaign message more relevant and engaging for party-goers.

“We also recognise that Christmas is an important period for our licensing trade partners and we want to support their local communities throughout the festive season. I encourage venues across Ireland and Northern Ireland to sign-up to this year’s campaign as it is this partnership that allows us to make this road safety campaign an impactful one for all.”

The Designated Driver campaign is supported by An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority and Drinkaware. It’s also backed by the LVA, the VFI the RAI and the IHF.

Over the past 14 years, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland has invested more than €7 million in the campaign to help promote road safety during the Christmas period.

Designated Driver runs from 1st December 2018 to 1st January 2019. Publicans, hoteliers and restaurateurs can sign up from 12th November and stock will be available from 18th November.

To register for the campaign please contact your local sales representative or the customer information centre on ROI 1890 26 22 26 | NI 0845 608 8889.








Schweppes reveals its dark side with rich new Muscovado flavor

Since launching a year ago, Schweppes’ 1783 range has added €660,000 in value to the on-trade across the island of Ireland. Thanks to ongoing investment in the brand, Schweppes is delivering consistent growth, achieving 6.9% growth year-to-date.

This November, Schweppes expands its 1783 range of premium mixers with the addition of rich Muscovado flavour. Expertly crafted by mixologists to perfectly complement dark spirits, Muscovado delivers hints of velvety vanilla, creamy caramel and sweet butterscotch. Made from all-natural ingredients, it showcases the long-lasting effervescence that Schweppes is known for.

Schweppes Muscovado is a response to the growing popularity of dark spirits and it arrives just in time for the cold Winter months. Adding Schweppes Muscovado to a whiskey or rum this Winter turns a drink into the perfect warming treat. Schweppes’ new dark spirit mixer contains natural muscovado flavours to deliver hints of vanilla, caramel & butterscotch

Schweppes Muscovado joins the brand’s existing five-strong premium range consisting of Crisp Tonic Water, Light Tonic Water, Ginger Ale and two unique flavoured tonics: Salty Lemon and Quenching Cucumber. Each mixer is designed to marry perfectly with the finest white and dark spirits, elevating the taste sensation.

“As the country’s number one mixer, Schweppes is a sophisticated brand that continues to thrive,” explained Kylie Magee, Coca-Cola HBC’s Marketing Manager for the on-trade, “Thanks to the ongoing success of the premium spirits category, the brand is primed for further growth and we will support that through continued investment in marketing and innovation.

“The introduction of the new variant to the 1783 premium mixers with Schweppes Muscovado will further shape the brand’s presence in the on-trade. With its caramel, butterscotch and vanilla flavor, Muscovado is the perfect pairing for darker spirits and is sure to entice consumers throughout the festive season.”

Schweppes Muscovado is available now in 200ml glass bottles from premium bars and restaurants nationwide.


Fine mixers from distilled essences

The London Essence Company uses traditional distillation techniques to create light and elegant drinks for the 21st century. Using distilled essences, imagination and input from leading bartenders, it has crafted a range of carefully-calibrated mixers with a contemporary edge.

Its entire collection is delicately light and low in calories, with naturally sourced sweetness and no more than 20 calories per 100ml. The result is a more sophisticated flavour profile that flatters discerning palates and allows the distinct notes of a spirit partner to shine through.




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