As the on-trade explores the possibility of less limited Summer opening, that prolonged period without a visit to the pub has meant that consumers have conducted most of their soft drinks and mixers purchases via the local grocery and off-licence.
This will no doubt have led to some degree of individualism in purchasing patterns as opposed to the ‘follow-the-herd’ mentality sometimes apparent in on-trade purchasing.
There can be little doubt too that Covid-19 has changed a lot of people’s attitudes to health and a significant majority are likely to consider whether or not a product might contain artificial or natural ingredients as being an important deciding factor in brand purchasing choice.
Other important factors dictating final consumer choice include whether or not it’s reduced calorie and/or reduced sugar content and whether the product range offers innovative flavours, whether it’s ‘transparent’ in its manufacturing and distribution, whether it’s ‘sustainably’ produced, its provenance and whether it’s “good” for them – and of course whether it has good taste and flavour.
Throughout Lockdown, the soft drinks and mixers category has been noticeably buoyant. To some extent it has ameliorated the damage done to sales by the closure of the on-trade.
Figures from NielsenIQ on the mixers market taken from its survey of multiples and convenience specialists (including discounters but excluding Dunnes Stores) in the year to the 25th of April indicate that mixers sales volumes were up 25% while for this year to April the 25th, mixers sales volumes were up 19%. They were up 3% in the eight weeks to the 25th of April.
NielsenIQ’s figures for carbonates generally seem similarly rosy: up 20% in the year to the 25th of April and up 10% in 2021 to the 25th of April.
Recent consumer research from Globaldata indicates that just under half of US consumers aged between 25 and 34 tend to purchase alcohol drinks in the mid-to-premium price range.
But such consumers buying premium spirits also seek a premium mixer to go along with their choice.
Ireland’s leading mixed drink brand Poachers Drinks recently became the first-ever winner of the top prize in the inaugural Tonic and Mixers category at the renowned Spirits Business Global Masters Series.
Poachers Wild Tonic with Irish Elderflower, a careful blend of hand-picked Irish Elderflower, fresh Lemon and natural Quinine, beat off competition from 95 products from around the world to claim the Taste Master Award last March. Poachers made off with a further six medals in the competition for its range.
Made sustainably in County Wexford, the range embraces unique, natural Irish ingredients, realised in a stylish and natural way, for a customer that’s increasingly more adventurous in their approach to taste. Made to delicately enhance and never overwhelm premium spirits the range can also be enjoyed as a sophisticated no alcohol serve.
The Poachers range of award-winning lower in sugar flavours includes Classic Tonic with Irish Thyme; Citrus Tonic with Irish Rosemary; Wild Tonic with Irish Elderflower; Light Tonic with Irish Rosemary, Ginger Ale with Irish Apple, Soda Water and the newest release, Ginger Beer with Irish Chilli from County Galway.
Established by Brendan Colbert in 2017, with long-term friend Terri Cooper joining as partner and Creative Director in 2019, the business now exports to over eight countries and is available in some of the most prestigious and innovative Irish bars and restaurants worldwide including The Richard Corrigan Collection and Homeboy Bars.
Premiumisation of the mixer category
Mixers have become the fastest-growing carbonated drinks category in Ireland.
This, combined with the long-term trend of lighter, lower calorie and lower sugar drinks, means there’s been a need for brands to broaden 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 and lighter drinking 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 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 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 No alcohol Low alcohol category. This trend has not gone unnoticed by The London Essence Company and its use of contemporary flavours makes the whole range as enjoyable on their own or mixed to provide low alcohol serves.
Brian adds, “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 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.
Introducing two new Thomas Henry Tonics
Thomas Henry continues to innovate within the Tonic category, adding two new Tonic variants to its portfolio: the Thomas Henry Botanical Tonic & the Thomas Henry Dry Tonic.
In the first Quarter of 2021 the Berlin-based company expanded its Tonic range with the two new Tonic variants, both created according to the brand principle ‘From bartenders for bartenders’ and with the support of well-known bartenders such as Maria Gorbatschova (Green Door Bar, Berlin), Karim Fadl (Bar Tausend, Berlin) and others from the international bar scene.
“As a premium mixer expert, it’s important to us to meet the continuously evolving demands of gastronomy as well as to actively react to the consumer behaviour with new products and drink ideas,” says Marketing & Sales Director Sigrid Bachert, “These new Tonic variants are ideal additions to our portfolio.
“Next to Thomas Henry Tonic Water, a versatile all-rounder with a tangy bitter note, we add a dry and sugar-reduced variant with the Thomas Henry Dry Tonic – and with the Thomas Henry Botanical Tonic, an excitingly mild and floral variant to our Tonic range.”
Thomas Henry Dry Tonic is the second new Tonic variant created with a focus on the on-trade to meet the growing demand for less sweet and low-calorie drinks. It’s sugar-reduced and less sweet, leaving more room to unfold the full taste potential of the spirits it’s paired with.
In taste, the Tonic is rather dry with citrus in the finish and a pleasant residual sweetness. With 6.5 g of sugar per 100 ml it’s the ideal Tonic composition for a refreshingly light and pleasantly dry taste experience for Gin & Tonic and other low-ABV drink creations.
Both have already won two awards in the Tonic and Mixer Masters 2021 Master and Gold; these will be available from August through Dalcassian Wines and Spirits.