Local retailers in Scotland have a refreshing opportunity to soak up bottled water sales in 2022.
by Gaelle Walker
For Scottish local convenience retailer Dennis Williams, bottled water is a “massive” category, accounting for well over 10% of category sales in the winter months and rising to just shy of 20% in the summer when sales peak.
Hardly surprising then that he and wife Linda maintain a razor-sharp focus on the category all year round in a bid to squeeze every last drop out of its potential.
And Dennis is certainly not alone. In fact, according to Nestlé Waters, the water segment continues to be a “valuable source of sales” for convenience retailers across the country – making up the biggest segment in the soft drinks category and accounting for 26% of all soft drink volume sales.
Health has long-since been a key driver of bottled water sales and looks set to remain a motivating force in 2022, as shoppers keep a tight hold of many of the healthier habits adopted during the pandemic, with drinking more water chief among these according to Barr.
And despite the general trend towards healthier living, bottled water sales see their second biggest peak in the early part of the year, buoyed by New Year’s Resolutions to drink less alcohol, consume less sugar and exercise more.
Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks elaborates: “With 6.5 million people participating in Dry January, the demand for both bottled water and lower and no sugar soft drinks increases in the early part of the year.
“In-fact drinking more water is currently the number one healthy change that shoppers are looking to make,” he says.
And, judging by the fact that 62% of the population admit to still not drinking the recommended two litres of water per day according to Nestlé Waters, it’s an ambition that clearly spells a fluid opportunity for local retailers who can facilitate them doing so.
With sustainability also set to remain a key priority for shoppers in 2022, bottled water brands which clearly demonstrate their environmental credentials are likely to win a greater share of sales says Severine Hemms, Shopper Marketing Manager at Nestlé Waters.
“Sustainability has remained at the forefront of shoppers’ minds throughout the pandemic, with 77% of UK consumers saying that they try to act in a way that is not harmful to the environment. With consumers demanding products that can help limit their environmental impact, it’s more important than ever for retailers to consider the green credentials of the products they have on offer.”
Buxton’s on-the-go range is now completely made from 100% recycled plastic and is also fully recyclable.
It also features the additional “I am made from other bottles” messaging – key to helping it communicate its sustainability street cred, Hemms adds.
And Buxton is not the only brand out there that is seeking to quash the use of virgin plastic.
Highland Spring’s ‘Eco Bottle’ is also made from 100% recycled plastic, with the bottle, label and cap also all 100% recyclable.
Available across still and sparkling variants and in 50cl, 75cl and kids’ formats, the bottle design was helping the brand inch closer and closer to its goal of creating a “closed loop” in which no plastic was wasted and no new plastic was created, Highland Spring said.
With spring and the promise of warmer weather on the way, demand for on-the-go natural mineral water formats is also expected to make a concerted comeback in 2022.
“While Covid-19 has impacted how people shop for smaller water formats, we’re confident that on-the-go formats will recover,” Hemms adds. “69% of total plain water value sales come from on-the-go formats, so it’s essential that retailers stock the right products and brands to meet the needs of on-the-go consumption.”
And while healthy mindsets look set to deliver a fresh rush of bottled water sales in 2022, retailers should overlook flavoured variants at their peril, Barr’s Troy warns.
While upping their water consumption remains the biggest healthy change that shoppers want to make, almost half of Brits say they prefer the taste of flavoured drinks to plain water, he adds.
“These trends lead to a massive incremental opportunity for retailers, where shoppers are looking for lower calorie soft drinks that don’t compromise on taste and give them a fruity flavour hit.”
With its “high taste, low calorie” proposition, Barr’s Rubicon Spring offered the “perfect bridge” between the healthiness of water and the taste of carbonated fruit drinks, he adds.
The brand, which combines sparkling spring water and fruit juice, with 15 calories or less per bottle, saw a 66% increase in Drink Now sales within its 500ml range after restrictions eased in 2021, while its Take Home sales grew by 139% over the course of 2021 as more shoppers consumed the brand at home.