Driving growth together in convenience with Coca-Cola European Partners

Gary Black, Coca-Cola European Partners

by Gary Black, Sales Director Wholesale and Convenience, Coca-Cola European Partners

2018 was a big year for the convenience channel. Despite the best efforts of the Beast from the East to send the country in to shutdown, soaring temperatures and World Cup fever in the summer months provided a boost to retailers. Meanwhile seasonal events including Halloween and Christmas once again helped to drive purchases as people enjoyed nights in with families and friends to mark these occasions.

With eight in 10 consumers in GB now shopping in convenience stores1 and soft drinks up by 8% within this channel2, there is a lot retailers can do to maximise the soft drinks opportunity. As well as investing in our field sales team, equipment and technology, we’re helping Scottish retailers to deliver the right range by evolving our core portfolio, exciting shoppers with NPD and providing choice – whether that’s in flavour variety or low and zero sugar variants.

Following the introduction of the Soft Drinks Tax, low and zero sugar soft drinks have accelerated in growth3. The ‘zero or low-sugar’ soft drink sector is in fact the fastest-growing segment in Scotland with 10 of the top 15 soft drinks brands being either zero or low-sugar variants4. It’s therefore important for retailers to ensure they have a range of soft drink options that are low in sugar to sit alongside their classic options like Coca-Cola original taste or Monster Green.

Coca-Cola zero sugar is now the fastest-growing light cola brand in retail, up 47%5, while Diet Coke, the biggest light cola brand, continues to grow6. Outside colas, Fanta Zero is growing in popularity7 and is recruiting new shoppers into the segment, making it a must stock for our customers.

In GB, a staggering 4.7 million households buy flavoured colas, bringing in 340,000 incremental shoppers to the cola segment every year8. We’re committed to working with retailers to make the most of this trend through our flavour innovations, which have already been hugely popular.

Last year, we launched Diet Coke Exotic Mango and Coca-Cola zero sugar Peach to support the growing demand for low and zero sugar soft drinks and our light cola flavours are worth over £25 million9. Following on from their success, we are adding two more variants to our light cola portfolio this year – Diet Coke Twisted Strawberry and Coca-Cola zero sugar Raspberry.

Within energy, the Monster Energy Ultra range, which offers five amazing fruit flavours with zero sugar, is helping retailers to cater for those looking for an energy boost without the calories. We have recently introduced Monster Ultra Blue – its sparkling citrus and berry flavour and zero-sugar credentials is designed to appeal to millennials looking for a sugar-free energy kick that tastes great.

Whilst getting the range right is extremely important, retailers also need to focus on in-store execution to ensure that the shopping experience is clear and straightforward. This includes well-merchandised displays grouping soft drink segments together, cross-category adjacencies which places soft drinks alongside complementary categories like snacks or sandwiches to drive linked purchases and clear pricing and promotions to grab shopper attention.


  1. HIM: CTP 2018
  2. Nielsen w/e 29.12.18 MAT Impulse
  3. Shopper research 2015, Kantar Worldpanel Usage // In-home/Carried-Out
  4. Kantar Worldpanel: 52we Nov 2018
  5. Weekly Nielsen Data MAT w/e 29.12.2018
  6. Weekly Nielsen Data MAT w/e 29.12.2018
  7. Weekly Nielsen Data MAT w/e 29.12.2018
  8. Kantar Worldpanel Take Home 52w/e 13.08.17
  9. Nielsen MAT Vol & Val 29.12.19 (Total market and impulse)