Mixers have experienced considerable growth in stature and quality over the last few years and are now responsible for a quarter of all soft drinks sales here by value, making them the second-highest value soft drink category after Colas. And the market for quality mixers is onlylikely to grow further still as quality-conscious consumers consider their expanded choice of Premium mixer to accompany their Premium spirit purchase.
Having gained a 1.2 percentage point increase in value share, mixers emerged as the biggest winning category across 2021, holding €31.1 million of the €130 million Soft Drinks category, roughly 40% of their 2019 value according to market analyst CGA.
What seems clearis that Premiumisation has played a significant role in growing the market for mixers, perhaps catalysed by the pandemic. This, in turn, has been partially predicated by a demand from consumers for something equally ‘craft’ to accompany their choice of craft spirits.
Add into the mix the fact that reducing or eliminating alcohol entirely from the equation on some nights has become a trend in itself and the trade can see that a lot more attention should be paid to the growing range of Premium mixers now coming onstream.
Although the market in the on-trade remains behind its 2019 level, consumers now seek out low calorie/low sugar drinks offerings in this channel.
Vodka now comprises a quarter of on-trade spirits sales according to CGA, with a third of vodka drinkers consuming it in a cocktail. Cola, lemonade and energy drinks are the three most popular vodka mixers but 33% of drinkers now drink flavoured vodka.
And as CGA has pointed out, one in four consumers say they’re drinking more cocktails than before, providing a perfect opportunity for both traditional and flavoured mixers.
Bord Bia has forecast a recovery to approximately 80% of 2019’s on-trade market value this year so, within that, a recovery to 80-85% of the 2019 value for mixers, given the early signs, seems realistic.
Sip into something Summery
Ireland’s number one mixer, Schweppes, kicks-off the Summer season with the launch of Pink Soda and Lemonade non-returnable glass in the on-trade.
Available from 1st May, the two new flavours add to the extensive 200ml Schweppes Core range.
Consumers continue to look for flavoured mixer options which deliver on taste and fizz and Schweppes Pink Soda and Lemonade can create mixed drinks that meet these demands.
Schweppes Pink Soda offers a variety of mixing and drink options and is fantastic as a spritz drink made with gin or rosé wine garnished with a pink Grapefruit. Spritz drinks will continue to be a popular menu choice this Summer in the on-trade linked to consumer demand for simple cocktails and low-calorie drink options.
Calorie count ranks among the top reasons for consumers choosing a spirit and mixer or spritz option – and Schweppes Pink Soda has only 40.
This Summer Schweppes will drive awareness and trial of the launch through a targeted social, PR and Experiential media plan. The launch will be supported with a fully-integrated marketing campaign including value-added deals with activation items such as glassware and ‘gin trees’ to keep the brand top-of-mind for customers.
The ‘Spritz’ Summer trend will be supported all Summer through venue PO and a newly-developed ‘suggested serve’ booklet providing venues inspiration to create serves linked to Schweppes varieties.
The sales team will work in partnership with outlets to activate the brand on menus, highlighting mixability opportunities and suggested serves.
“The Pink Soda and Lemonade innovations will be the perfect drink accompaniment this Summer,” said Andrea Whyte, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland & Northern Ireland Marketing Director, “The variants will also meet the needs of customers who wish to choose the healthier mixer option. The low Kcal content in both Pink Soda (40Kcals) and Lemonade (66Kcals) will be an appealing factor to the target market”.
In 2013 Richmond Marketing introduced Fever-Tree to the Irish market. It has since become Ireland’s No 1 Premium Mixer Brand.
The past decade has seen a market-wide shift towards Premiumisation with Fever-Tree pioneering the Premium Mixer category and Fever-Tree has continued to diversify its portfolio to meet Irish consumers’ ever-evolving needs.
For the brand, it’s about putting quality back into both the on-trade and at-home occasion with one simple premise: if three-quarters of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best.
The category’s canned format has appealed to retail consumers, propelled even further due to Covid-19, growing 108% in 2021.
While Fever-Tree’s best known for its high-quality tonic waters, alternative mixers include: Ginger Ale (sales up 1%), Soda Water (up 8%) and Ginger Beer (up 28%).
Fever-Tree now offers one of the market’s most expansive mixer ranges also encompassing Mexican Lime Soda Water, Italian Blood Orange Soda Water and Raspberry and Rhubarb Tonic Water, the newest addition to the Fever-Tree range. This was developed specifically with the younger drinker in mind, hence a sweeter taste profile aimed at tapping into the rise of lemonade mixers as well as the “pink drink” Instagram-able moment.
From a total haul of 13 medals, six flavours from the Irish-based Poachers range were awarded Taste Medals at the Bartenders Brand Awards 2022, including a Gold Taste Medal for its Classic Tonic with Irish Thyme.
All six flavours also won Gold Design Medals for their striking, colourful modern Irish branding.
Poachers’ range of premium mixed drinks are made sustainably in County Wexford using native Irish ingredients and this recognition by the UK-based Bartenders Brand Awards builds on Poachers’ international success at the renowned Spirits Business Global Masters Series last year, where its Wild Tonic beat-off competition from 95 other products around the world to claim the Taste Master Award in the inaugural Tonic and Mixers category.
Poachers now exports to over eight countries and is available in some of the most prestigious and innovative Irish bars and restaurants worldwide.
Gold Taste Medal Winner Poachers Classic Tonic with Irish Thyme blends spring water, natural Quinine, Lemon Hibiscus and hand-picked Irish Thyme.
“Its delicate balance of herbal and citrus notes complement premium and craft gins and it excels in an evening adult aperitif with a vermouth or a quality Tequila,” states the company.
Silver Taste Medal Winner Poachers Wild Tonic brings a taste of Summer, blending Irish Elderflower with fresh Lemon and natural Quinine.
“The natural sugars are carefully balanced to ensure they do not overpower the wild Elderflower and citrus components,” points out Poachers, “Wild is well-suited to lighter-style pink and fruiter gins or over ice as a sophisticated non-alcoholic adult serve.”
Silver Taste Medal Winner Poachers Ginger Ale combines mineral-rich Irish spring water with the very best organic Ginger and organic Apples from two Irish orchards, with hints of fresh Lime.
“Dry, lower in sugar, with a very subtle spice, the focus is not to overpower the caramels of whiskey but to add the warmth and spice of ginger and the freshness of Apples and Lime,” states the company.
Bronze Taste Medal Winners Poachers Citrus Tonic and Light Tonic both combine Irish spring water, Orange and Lemon notes with fresh Irish Rosemary to create a balanced, subtle tonic water with a refined dryness, according to the company.
“The Light tonic has a lower calorie count yet carries the same beautiful Rosemary and Lemon notes through, with a lighter finish from a reduced sugar content.”
The Bartenders’ Brand Awards is a unique blind-tasting, design and value-tested competition for spirits, wines, beers and drinks products available within the UK bar industry. Now in its fifth year, the judging panel boasts some of the most renowned names in the UK bar industry, giving winning spirits, beer and drinks products an endorsement from the most influential people in the global drinks industry.
Premiumisation of mixer and soft drinks category
The growth in the Premium soft drinks market combined with the long-term trend of lighter, lower calorie and lower sugar drinks, means that brands have broadened their product offering to include ‘healthier choices’ that strengthen consumers’ overall drinking experience in terms of taste, serve and enjoyment.
At the forefront of this evolving category is The London Essence Company, a premium drinks brand producing elegantly distilled mixers designed to accentuate the finest spirits.
Each expression is delicately light at under 20kcal per 100ml, low in sugar at under 4g per 100ml and crafted without the use of artificial sweeteners thanks to its unique use of distilled essences.
“Following the long-term trend towards sugar reduction across the world and being consumers of Premium drinks ourselves, we found that many ‘Premium’ options focused on natural credentials but were also very high in sugar,” said Brian Greer, Marketing Manager at Britvic Ireland, “It’s important to deliver light, natural options that also have great taste to ensure overall enjoyment.”
Through its relationship with the on-trade and conversations with world-leading bartenders London Essence also recognised that high sugar mixers often overpower the characteristics of the spirit partner instead of enhancing them.
With that in mind, the brand took inspiration from its heritage in creating distilled essences which capture the flavour of the finest ingredients to deliver aromatic signature notes and great taste, with only a dusting of sugar.
In addition to the growing need for low calorie and lower sugar mixers, there’s also been a huge shift change in the number of people reducing their alcohol intake following an increase in the NoLo category – a trend not gone unnoticed by The London Essence Company and its use of contemporary flavours, making the whole range as enjoyable on their own or mixed.
“Thanks to the growing mixer market and continual product innovation, curious consumers now have plenty of options in terms of flavour and pairing,” adds Brian, “However, it’s important to offer quality, taste and versatility first and foremost. A sign of a sophisticated mixer is when they can be enjoyed in any form – with or without a spirit – to satisfy all drinking occasions.
“Therefore not only do we have a fantastic range of tonics and gingers, but also a delicious selection of crafted sodas including Rhubarb and Cardamom and Roasted Pineapple which we launched earlier in the year and already receiving fantastic reviews from bartenders.”
The London Essence range includes Original Indian Tonic Water, Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic, Blood Orange & Elderflower Tonic, Pomelo and Pink Peppercorn Tonic Water as well as a delicate Ginger Ale and a Spiced Ginger Beer. The Crafted Soda range includes Rhubarb and Cardamom and Roasted Pineapple.