The soft drinks category is gearing up for a mocktail of challenges in 2022.
by Gaelle Walker
From new HFSS legislation to the growing consumer demand for healthier products, 2022 is shaping up to be a seminal year for soft drinks.
And that’s before we get started on the other key shopper trends shaking the category up including the need for value, fresh exciting flavours and more sustainable products and practices.
And with a current value of £311m in Scottish c-stores alone, and growing at 8% year-on-year (according to AG Barr) the soft drinks category is certainly one that’s well worth getting right.
With demand for healthier sugar-free options on the up and particularly among the younger generations, the first few weeks of 2022 have already witnessed the birth of numerous new sugar-free variants from big brand manufacturers – innovations which will not just cater to demand but will also help retailers to “future-proof” their ranges once the HFSS rules are enforced in October.
“We know that the way people live is changing – health is becoming more important and, especially with younger shoppers, we’re seeing an increase in demand for lower calorie products and a significant reduction in the consumption of alcohol,” says Adrian Troy, marketing director at Barr Soft Drinks whose zero-sugar brand Irn-Bru Xtra is currently said to be “growing three times faster than the category..”
Also answering the call for sugar-free innovation is CCEP, whose zero-sugar Monster Ultra range has just been bolstered with the addition of a juicy new Watermelon flavour. The range, which according to CCEP, is in 57% growth, is also being supported by a new snow sport-themed promotion.
Monster Ultra Watermelon will be available in both plain and price-marked 500ml packs for shoppers to enjoy on-the-go.
CCEP GB Vice President of commercial development Martin Attock explains: “Two thirds of CCEP’s volume sales now come from low and no sugar variants – that’s 40% more than 10 years ago.
“We know there’s big demand in the market for new and exciting flavours, especially in the low-calorie energy drinks segment.”
Pack it up
Red Bull’s sugar-free range meanwhile has also just been launched in a new multipack format – in a canny move designed not only to tap into the growing sugar-free opportunity (30% of Red Bull’s impulse customers only purchase sugar-free sports and energy drinks) but one that also caters for rising demand for multipacks which, according to Red Bull, are currently “outperforming any other format” with a 34% growth MAT and driving 85% incremental growth.
Monster Ultra’s aforementioned new Watermelon variant will also be launched in four-can multipacks from February.
The move, CCEP said, would “capitalise on the continued popularity of the home-based energy drink occasions that accelerated during the pandemic” and that has boosted demand for larger pack formats ever since.”
In a year of continued economic uncertainty, PMPs also look set to play an increasingly important role when it comes to attracting value-thirsty shoppers.
As such Yazoo has also announced a refresh of its price-marked pack portfolio from February.
Yazoo’s 1 litre bottles will be available as a £1.79 PMP; whilst the core 400ml bottles are in a £1.15 PMP, with an additional flash showing the attractive new 2 for £2 offer.
FrieslandCampina business unit controller for out of home Wayne Thompson explains: “PMPs are popular with both retailers and consumers alike, protecting retailer margins whilst ensuring a positive price perception among shoppers. We know from our consumer research that Yazoo shoppers are often looking to make multiple bottle purchases, so the 2 for £2 offer provides value for money, especially as we head into another new year marked by economic uncertainty.”
The flavour train also looks set to pick up pace in 2022 as shoppers, especially those buying into the low to no sugar category, continue to hunt out innovative flavour fusions and tropical tastes.
“Taste remains the number one motivation for shoppers when choosing a soft drink and new flavour innovations continue to drive growth in the category,” Barr’s Troy adds.
Rubicon’s waters range was famously expanded last summer with the launch of new Rubicon Spring Pineapple Passion and Rubicon Sparkling Raspberry & Pineapple – the brand’s first sparkling flavour launch for over 30 years and the first soft drink in the UK with this fruity flavour combination.
The need for brands and retailers to offer more sustainable options is also expected to hit new heights in 2022 – with shoppers increasingly expected to factor sustainability into their purchasing decisions according to Barr.
Responding to this demand Barr says it plans to build on its No Time To Waste initiative with further measures to reduce its overall environmental impact, including reducing the use of virgin plastic through 100% recycled film on multipacks, paper straws on smaller juice packs and plant-based plastics in its 1L cartons.