The soft drinks market in the UK has undergone huge changed in the past 10 years. There is now a clear demand from consumers for premiumisation and innovation across the sector, clearly shown by the huge success of brands like Fever Tree. Founded in 2003 with a mission to bring quality, flavour and choice to their products, Fever Tree has grown to be a household name with an estimated value of £4.5bn in 2018 .
How can businesses take advantage of this shift in the market and ensure their premium soft drinks and mixers match changing customer expectations? We take a look at the top five reasons below.
5. Fancy a bite?
In recent years, such large numbers of licensed outlets have also introduced or reinforced a dining element to their business model that now, eating and drinking outside of the home almost always go hand in hand. Pubs become gastropubs, cafés serve bottled beer and wine bars offer small plates and nibbles.
Recent studies suggest that consumers are increasingly choosing to pair soft drink options with food over hot drinks; soft drinks consumption at key meal times were up 0.6% in 2017 vs hot drinks which fell by 1.1% (Britvic, 2018). Outlets serving food could capitalise on this trend by ensuring they have a quality range of soft drinks to suit every eating occasion they service, whether that’s juices with brunch, mock-tails with afternoon tea or sparkling options with lunch and dinner.
4. More People Drinking Less
A University College London study of 10,000 people in the UK has concluded that young people are drinking less than ever. An NHS report  included some of the key figures, which were as follows:
- The proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds who are teetotal rose from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015.
- the numbers who hadn't had a drink in the last week rose from 35% to 50%
- the numbers who had engaged in binge-drinking fell from 27% to 18%
As well as choosing to drink alcohol free beers, wine and distilled 'spirit' replacements, there is a clear opportunity to upsell soft drinks to these consumers. Belvoir, Frobishers and Cawston Press are all great examples of innovative soft drinks brands that have a range of sparkling and fruit juice options that could appeal for a range of occassions.
3. Sugar Tax
The introduction of the sugar tax in April 2018, which taxes 18p per litre on drinks with a sugar content of over 5g per 100ml, was a clear indicator of the shift in attitude by consumers and the government on the responsibility of food and drinks manufacturers to ensure their products aren't negatively impacting public health.
The response to the sugar tax has been varied. A large percentage of soft drinks manufacturers opting to reduce the amount of sugar in the products they make in order to avoid the tax altogether, while others such as Coca Cola have chosen to stick with the traditional recipes and production methods, passing the tax on to the consumer.
This shift is a great opportunity for bars to revisit their soft drinks option, and make sure they have some low sugar or sugar free options in the mix.
2. Sustainable Softs
With the threats posed by climate change on the publics mind, sustainability and green credentials are increasingly important for many soft drinks consumers. The ethical food and drink market is now worth over £8 billion in the UK, and is filled with great tasting products that that have less environmental and social impact than some of their competitors.
One simple way thay outlets can lessen the environmental impact of their soft drinks ranges is by choosing products that are made locally wherever possible.
1. The Perfect Serve
The number of UK distilleries has more than doubled in the last decade which has brought hundreds of exciting, premium varieties of gin, vodka, whisky and rum to the market. With consumers more aware than ever of the flavour profile of spirits, there has also been an increased focus on the flavour profile of the mixers that accompany them.
Indian tonic water is traditionally a carbonated beverage with a bitter hit provided by quinine, a substance extracted from cinchona bark. With a touch of lemon and a hint of sweetness it has been the go-to mixer for gin fans for years.
Fever Tree has a range of 7 tonic waters which perfectly complement the varied flavour categories of gin. The robust, juniper rich gins such as Tanqueray and Plymouth match perfectly with their Aromatic Tonic. Fresh and floral gins like Hendricks and Botanist can find a perfect partner with their Elderflower Tonic. Sweeter or Sloe Gin brands partner well with their Lemon Tonic Water, whereas Beefeater, Bulldog, Portobello and other citrus and herb rich varieties would benefit from the Mediterranean Tonic.
But now you can get an array of high quality, premium mixers to complement each the four main spirits.
Not just gin and vodka focussed, Fever Tree have developed a selection of ginger ales and ginger beer, a Madagascan cola, a couple of lemonades and a simple soda water, all geared to bring out the best in dark spirit.
More recent to the market are Lixir Tonic - a British soft drinks company offering all-natural flavoured tonic waters claiming a versatile range, complementing an array of gins, vodkas, dark spirits and liqueurs. Their Classic Indian Tonic pairs perfectly with dry gins and the Refreshingly Light version lets floral brands shine. Lixir Rhubarb and Ginger matches the dry or fruity gins as well as golden or spiced rums, whereas their Elderflower and Lemon infused Tonic goes well with all varieties of gin. It also serves well as a top up for a Pimms or Prosecco. Their most versatile mixer is the Blood Orange and Cinnamon Tonic which is great with fruity or citrusy gins, whiskeys, rums and other liqueurs.