Soft Christmas sales

Always a boom time for the soft drinks industry, this time of year usually benefits both the off-trade and the on-trade through an ever-increasing variety of soft drinks and mixers. We take a look at how this is being taken into account by the soft drinks suppliers.

Despite what many might think, soft drinks decreased their value share of the total beverage market in the off-trade here last Christmas, from 29% to 24% when sales are compared to those for the same period in 2019 according to NielsenIQ.

“This is not surprising given the huge increases seen in the alcohol sector throughout last year during the pandemic,” points out Katie Varian, Senior Retail Account Manager with NielsenIQ.

Within the Soft Drinks sector Energy drinks were the star performer adding over €4 million to the category for Christmas 2020 vs 2019 and this overtook mineral waters to hold the highest spot in the soft drinks category with a 20% share.

“Takehome soft drinks drove 100% of incremental growth for the category which is also not surprising given the restrictions that were in place around the Christmas period in 2020, increasing share of total soft drinks to 48%,” she added.

But things are changing as we move through 2021.

Market analyst CGA’s on-trade research in this area shows that over the three months to the end of August soft drinks were running at 60% of 2019’s August to June levels.

“Soft drinks have recovered well lately, growing sales by 75% between June and August as drinking patterns settle back to normal,” according to CGA.

On-trade Mixer growth

In the most recent on-trade data from CGA, mixers have seen the biggest value share gains within the soft drinks category as a whole in the latest Quarter, growing their share by 1.8 percentage points compared to their share two years ago (before Covid).

“Mixers now account for 24.1% of total soft drinks value and hold the second-highest value in the category, closely following Cola at 26.3%,” it states.

Bringing real magic to Designated Drivers this Christmas

Coca-Cola HBC has announced the return of its award-winning Designated Driver initiative, the annual Christmas campaign rewarding those who stay sober on nights out to ensure their friends and family members get home safely.

Once again the campaign offers drivers two free soft drinks or water from the Coca-Cola HBC range throughout December at participating venues across the Island of Ireland.

The brand also rewards Designated Drivers by providing free parking spots at Q-Parks in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast. Available each December weekend, Designated Drivers simply present themselves to security hubs at the Q-Park stations to benefit from free parking on a night out.

To spread this ‘real magic’ across the country social media personality James Kavanagh and influential broadcaster Melissa Riddell are taking on the role of Designated Drivers and their followers will be in with a chance to win the ultimate night out in Dublin and Belfast.

More information will be shared on their respective Instagram channels in due course – @MelissaRiddell and @JamesAlanKavanagh.

The Designated Driver campaign is supported by the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána and Drinkaware. It’s also backed by the Licensed Vintners Association, the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Restaurants Association of Ireland and the Irish Hotels Federation.

Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland’s General Manager Miles Karemacher explained that Designated Drivers can avail of the two free soft drinks from the Coca-Cola HBC range by simply making themselves known to bar staff at participating venues.

The range include Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Fanta, Sprite, Deep RiverRock and Fruice.

Participating venues will be featured on and may feature in Coca-Cola’s out-of-home advertising campaign.

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.

You’ve got the Christmas spirit, we’ve got the tonic!

Ireland and Northern Ireland’s Number One mixer (holding 50.3% of the category by value) Schweppes kicks-off the Festive Season with its ‘You’ve got the Christmas spirit, we’ve got the tonic!’ campaign.

While 2020 Lockdowns forced much higher consumption of mixers in the home than usual, Schweppes still managed to grow value sales in 2021. Compared to the same period in 2019, the brand has grown by an outstanding 48% and by more than €3.0 million in revenue.

Schweppes’ campaign includes TV, Out-Of-Home advertising, social and PR as well as experiential activations across both on- and off-trades. The brand is also upweighting its digital investment, with promotions across spotify during the period.

Schweppes looks to drive footfall into on-trade venues this Festive Season by partnering with Any Excuse to reward consumers with a free ‘Gin & Schweppes Tonic’.

The campaign sees over 5,000 drinks served to consumers across 300 bars on the island, positioning Schweppes as the mixer of choice this Christmas.

“Schweppes continues to experience exponential growth and Christmas remains a pivotal time for the brand,” explains Andrea Whyte, Marketing Director, Coca-Cola HBC, “Demonstrating the resilience and popularity of the Number One mixer, almost 24 litres of Schweppes were sold every minute in the grocery channel last December!

“This year in particular we understand the important role that Schweppes will play in supporting our customers and we’re upweighting our investment behind the brand.”

Aisling Wilde, Frontline Activation Lead at Coca-Cola Ireland, added that Schweppes will respond to consumer demand for a high-quality product to pair with Premium spirits during the holiday season.

On-trade mission

The brand’s mission this Christmas is to support the on-trade to continue to reopen with impact. Value-adding deals and free stock will be provided to outlets, driving transactions and availability of key Schweppes packs. The support will include glassware and ‘gin trees’ to keep the brand top-of-mind for customers and patrons alike in-outlet.

Schweppes also continues to build relationships with bar staff across the country and is sharing a newly-developed ‘suggested serve’ booklet to provide some new Schweppes inspiration for Christmas menus.

The Schweppes sales team will also work in partnership with outlets to activate the brand on menus, highlighting mixability opportunities and suggested serves.

Schweppes also provides mixability gift boxes for key on-trade customers for giveaways on their own social media channels.

With additional takeovers by the brand at flagship venues in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast, visibility of Schweppes is at an all-time high this Christmas.

For more information, visit

Kilbroney Water

Kilbroney pure water is drawn from a natural source deep within the beautiful Glens of Antrim.

A healthy level of rainfall and the ever-present ground water in the Glens, trickle down the volcanic bedrock and natural limestone filtration to reach an ancient aquafer that traverses beneath this historic and mineral-rich landscape.

At the well-head in Magheramorne, water is drawn from 180 feet beneath the surface and this depth allows the water to maintain a constant year-round temperature and composition creating the perfect conditions for Kilbroney pure and natural water.

Premiumisation of mixer & soft drinks category

Mixers have become the fastest-growing carbonated drinks category in Ireland and following a rise in the popularity of consumers drinking less but better quality, there’s been particular growth in the Premium soft drinks market.

This, combined with the long-term trend of lighter, lower calorie and lower sugar drinks, means that there’s been a need for brands to broaden their product offering to include ‘healthier choices’ that strengthen consumers’ overall drinking experience.

At the forefront of this evolving movement 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 Britvic Ireland’s Marketing Manager Brian Greer, “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 overpowered 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.

There has 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. Its use of contemporary flavours makes the whole range as enjoyable on their own or mixed to provide low alcohol serves.

“Thanks to the growing mixer market and continual product innovation, curious consumers now have plenty of options in terms of flavour and pairing,” Brian adds, “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 and preferences.”

The London Essence mixer varieties include 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 White Peach and Jasmine Soda.

Club Mixers : Launching new Elderflower Tonic Water

Ever since unveiling a complete relaunch of its iconic range back in 2017, changes continue to evolve for the better at the number One Irish Mixer brand Club.

September saw the launch of the new Elderflower Tonic Water, the first flavoured tonic water in the portfolio. Designed to pair perfectly with London Dry Gin, complementing the well-rounded blend of sweetness and quinine bitterness, this Elderflower tonic adds a wonderful twist on a G&T.

Clean, crisp and full of definition with aromatic tones of floral Elderflower infused with subtle citrus undertones signature to the popular Club Tonic Water

“It was very important for us to keep such an iconic Irish brand contemporary and relevant to the modern consumer,” said Brian Greer, Marketing Manager at Britvic Ireland, “Our focus has always been to deliver a unique and superior taste experience and the introduction of our Elderflower Tonic Water is a proud moment for us on our journey; we look forward to bringing more exciting new flavours to the range.”

Club Elderflower Tonic is now available in 125ml non-returnable glass bottles for the on-trade.

Club ensures relevance across many drinking opportunities and its portfolio offers a wide range of flavours, best enjoyed chilled over ice with a garnish of choice. Club Mixers are the perfect accompaniment to spirits, expertly designed to blend deliciously with gins, vodkas and whiskeys.



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