Still, sparkling, plain or fruity, the water category offers a deep pool of opportunities for local stores.
By Gaelle Walker
Summer’s here and with the return of long hot days and sociable occasions, the next few months look set to offer a wealth of refreshing opportunities for the water category.
Bottled water in the convenience sector is seeing positive growth across the UK, with a 39% increase in value sales in the four weeks to 21 May, while Scotland saw a 26% increase within the same four-week period, according to The Highland Spring Group.
Sales of still Highland Spring water through Scottish convenience stores were up 25% in value terms over the 12 weeks to 21 May, while plain sparkling water bubbled up by 38% as shoppers increasingly turned to it for healthy on-the-go refreshment.
Mike Buckland, Marketing Controller of the Highland Spring Group explains: “A key trend this year is health and wellbeing. Consumers are increasingly looking for healthier alternatives to traditional soft drinks, opting for low sugar or lighter calorie options.
“Plain sparkling water is experiencing a rise in popularity and is often enjoyed as an everyday treat or pick me up.
“Retailers should keep an eye out for new and exciting products that focus on supporting consumers to meet their wellbeing goals, setting themselves apart from the bigger traders,” he adds.
And while shoppers’ growing appetite for plain water formats is clear to see, flavoured varieties are also proving popular with thirsty consumers.
In line with the general consumer trend towards fruity and tropical flavours, Danone recently added a Peach and Raspberry variant to its sugar-free Volvic Touch of Fruit range after research conducted by the brand revealed that peach and raspberry drinks grew by 17% within the soft drinks category over 2021.
Demand for innovative new flavours within the water category is also driving NPD within sparkling water where Highland Spring is also reporting growing demand for its 100% natural fruit flavour sparkling cans. Available in Blackberry, Plum & Hibiscus and Pear & Elderflower, the cans saw an increase in value sales of 30% in the four weeks to 21 May in the Scottish convenience sector.
A third flavour: Rhubarb and Ginger is also in the offing for later this year.
“Highland Spring’s sparkling cans are perfect for those looking for a healthier fizzy drink option to enjoy, whilst keeping hydrated,” Buckland continues.
“At under 35 calories per can, they are also a fantastic choice for those looking stick to healthy products whilst satisfying a fizzy drink craving and enjoying a refreshing, fruity flavour,” he adds.
When it comes to water, packaging also remains a hot topic and one that is of growing concern for shoppers.
Recent years have seen the Highland Spring brand enhance its offering with an array of sustainably-focused developments as it seeks to reach its goal of 100% recycled content (excluding cap and label) across its entire product range by 2025.
To further reduce its environmental impact, Highland Spring is also introducing a rail freight facility later this summer, which will see more than 40% of Highland Spring’s goods arriving to customers via rail, removing 8,000 HGVs from the road.
And Highland Spring is certainly not alone when it comes to the quest for sustainability. The Buxton Natural Mineral Water brand is accelerating its journey to become fully carbon neutral by 2023 thanks to a raft of initiatives including fully recyclable packaging that even includes caps.
All Buxton bottles are also now entirely made from 100% recycled plastic and the brand has plans to collect as many bottles as it produces by 2023 thanks to initiatives including its On The Go Recycling scheme which has already led to a 20% improvement in recycling rates in the brand’s home town of Buxton.