Go hard with soft drinks this Halloween

Jack O' Lanterns

Soft drinks is one of the most important and fastest-growing categories at Halloween, so it pays to get prepared in plenty of time.

Which category grows fastest at Halloween? You’d be wrong if you thought it was confectionery, bakery or even pumpkins, says Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP). The answer, as you’ll have worked out by now, is soft drinks [Kantar, Nov 2020].

“This demonstrates that soft drinks are becoming increasingly important and represent a real sales opportunity for retailers during this massive retail event,” says Burgess. “Shoppers pick soft drinks up to support Halloween occasions like parties, movie nights in with family or general social/party occasions with friends – all of which sit within the Together Time driver in our Taste Tomorrow soft drinks category vision, which identifies key opportunities for category growth in the months ahead.”

That’s why it important to ensure soft drinks are visible in-store and on shelf, especially for leading brands that are supported by seasonal marketing activity.

Burgess continues: “Fanta in particular is a popular choice thanks to its longstanding association with Halloween, driven by engaging campaigns and on-pack activity. Last year, the brand increased in value by 6.5% in the four weeks to Halloween, when one in four of all flavoured carbonates purchased were from the Fanta portfolio [Nielsen, Oct 2020].

“We’ve got even more eye-catching activity planned for the spookiest night of the year in 2021, which is set to be the biggest yet. In the run up to Halloween we’ll be unveiling ghoulish on-pack graphics, engaging shoppers with a new on-pack promotion with epic prizes, a host of point of sale materials to bring theatre in-store and all will be supported by a multi-million pound marketing campaign keeping Fanta front of mind with consumers during this growing seasonal event.”

Pack formats

CCEP expects larger packs to remain in high demand as people continue to make the most of the opportunity to socialise at home, and enjoy Halloween with friends and family. However, on-the-go occasions are making a comeback, too. That’s why it’s important for retailers to find the right balance between on-the-go and at-home formats, keeping space for both.

Value is likely to be a priority for consumers over the coming months, which is why it is one of the key ‘enablers’ in CCEP’s Taste Tomorrow soft drinks category vision. It’s all about making consumers’ favourite brands available at a price they’re happy to pay. PMPs have an important role to play, delivering visible value for shoppers and giving convenience retailers a point of difference versus the supermarkets.

Accounting for more than 60% of total soft drink sales in independent stores [Nielsen, Jun 2021], PMPs offer visible value on favourite brands.

Healthier choices

Health is now an even bigger motivator for consumers to improve their diet in the wake of the pandemic. In fact, two-thirds of the volume of soft drinks CCEP produces in GB are low or no sugar. This represents an increase of 40% compared to 10 years ago.

Burgess concludes: “Earlier this year we unveiled a refreshed look across our entire Coca-Cola range, and reformulated the recipe of Coca-Cola zero sugar, adding more of the much-loved Coca-Cola taste. We’re distributing more than a million packs with our latest sampling initiative – supported by another £3m media investment to keep the full Coca-Cola Zero Sugar range front of mind with shoppers.”

Ranging & Merchandising advice from CCEP
  • Availability of best sellers: Dedicate space to best-sellers in key segments like cola, energy and flavoured carbonates – including double facings where needed.
  • Low and no sugar options: Stock a wide range of low and no-sugar variants, and position them alongside the original alternatives, so it’s easy for shoppers to choose the one they want.
  • New products: Remove slower-selling lines to make room for well-supported new products that excite shoppers.
  • Deliver value: Stocking PMPs helps reassure value-conscious shoppers.
  • Cross-category displays: 41% of soft drink shoppers are on a food-to-go mission [HIM CTP, 2019] so place soft drinks alongside categories like snacks or sandwiches to drive linked purchases.
  • Visibility: Signpost displays with clear pricing and promotions, and consider secondary displays to prompt impulse purchases.