Findings revealed in the recently launched Britvic Soft Drinks Review 2017 show that the trend for healthy living has arguably had the biggest impact on the soft drinks category in recent years.
As consumers increasingly look to reduce their sugar and alcohol consumption, manufacturers have responded with reformulations of classic soft drinks. One such example is R White’s, which was re-designed in 2016 to align with a more premium positioning.
Indeed, ‘premiumisation’ of drinks is itself a growing and important trend – with data from CGA noting a 32% growth in 2016 ‒ and fast becoming the norm, even across mainstream outlets.
This has affected everything from ingredients to price to presentation, with trends such as serves in vintage-style mason jars and high-end balloon glasses going nowhere fast.
In fact, the Britvic Consumer Survey of July 2016 found that 83% of consumers would be “inspired to order a sensationally served drink if they saw it served at another table”, while 40% would be willing to pay more and 60% would be more likely to return to an outlet for the same reason.
R White’s has tapped into this further, with its own vintage-inspired glass bottle packaging and attractive, bright-yet-natural colours.
Health has also had a positive impact on soft drinks, as the trend for all-day dining and the social brunch continues thanks to the ‘moderate drinking’ Millennial generation.
In part due to this, brands have been quick to realise that adults are more likely to choose soft drinks with food, and have addressed their flavours and recipes accordingly.
And, with daytime drinking often seen as less acceptable or desired among the health-conscious crowd, adult soft drinks are now reaching far beyond the usual ‘for kids, pregnant women or designated drivers only’ set-up.
Overall, health-conscious adults are key: the Government’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy has been big news this year, but as the Britvic Soft Drinks Review 2017 points out, soft drinks manufacturers have been aware of changing trends about sugar and health for much longer than this.
Britvic has long played a key role in reducing sugar and calories without compromising on the all-important taste, with brands such as R White’s focusing primarily on attractive packaging and soft fruit flavours, but with a recipe that 100% complies with the new levy.
Forward-thinking manufacturers realise that customers are absolutely looking for healthy options, but also desire real taste, and often don’t seek obviously ‘low calorie’ options when dining out.
As the Britvic Soft Drinks Review 2017 says, “it’s not a trade-off between taste and health”.
Here, we catch up with Britvic Business Builder and brand ambassador, Nick Harding, operations director at events and bar company Odysian, to find out how he has capitalised on these opportunities after trialling the new look R White’s range in his Chester-based outlets.
Case study: Nick Harding on how R White’s has helped him
As operations director at Odysian, Harding oversees the Cruise nightclub in Chester, and the nearby Gin Rickey’s restaurant and gin bar.
The full Britvic R White’s Lemonade range is stocked in both sites, and Harding has seen an overall 20 per cent uplift in soft drink and cocktail sales since introducing the drinks into his outlets.
Popular with everyone – from students looking to party, through to adults looking for a post-dinner drink ‒ Harding estimates that the club alone goes through upwards of 60 cases of R White’s per week, across all three varieties: cloudy lemonade, raspberry, and pear and elderflower.
R White’s sells well served on its own without alcohol, he says, noting that, with the exception of parties or celebrations, diners and adults are choosing to drink less alcohol during the week, and even students aren’t drinking as much as in recent years.
Despite this, two of his most popular serves have been cocktails – The Raspberry Collins and Pear & Elderflower Collins.
Harding explains that a guest may say they would like a gin-based cocktail with something sweet, and expect the bartender to be able to recommend something suitable. Blended with either vodka or gin, the soft fruit flavours of the R White’s lemonades are especially well-suited for this, offering a balanced sweetness, while still allowing the taste of the spirits to come through.
This is particularly pertinent, Harding explains, as premium spirits and brands continue to gain in favour, with guests veering away from the pre-mixed drinks of the past, instead choosing a specific spirit or flavour‒ such as Gordon’s or Tanqueray or Grey Goose ‒ and then seeking out a complementary mixer to go with it.
Kevin McNair, GB Marketing Director at Britvic, commented: “As the second biggest soft drink segment in licensed, lemonade is worth £574m* and offers great sales potential to operators in the sector, as we’ve seen here for Nick. The category has evolved considerably since R White’s lemonade was first made and flavours are now driving the growth. Withover170 years’ experience, a range of flavoured variants and an attractive new look, R White’s lemonade is uniquely placed to help deliver value growth into the category and further sales for the leisure and licensed sectors.”
*CGA OPMS MAT w/e 31.12.2016
The colours of the lemonades are important too, because they mean that the bartender can make an attractive, coloured drink using only the lemonade, without needing to slow the cocktail-making process down by adding extra liqueurs or spirits to add colour. This removes a step from the bartender’s recipe, resulting in a cocktail that is quicker to make overall – especially good for big crowds ‒ but still appears colourful.
This, Harding adds, all comes down to staff training. The club’s regular staff training nights allow them to taste different cocktail serves, understand the makeup of the drinks, why customers might choose them, as well as how to upsell the different varieties without requiring posters or unsightly hard-sell imagery on the bar.
“You can really taste the flavours,” says Harding. “R White’s is a great range, especially for today’s drinks.”
From premiumisation of both soft drinks flavours and spirits, to low-sugar laws, to inspiring serves and attractive colours, to the continuing trend for healthier living, R White’s is just one example of a brand that is ticking all the boxes to appeal to today’s savvier, multi-billion-pound market.
In the words of the Britvic Soft Drinks Review 2017, “healthier soft drinks options shouldn’t be considered a nice-to-have, they should be an essential fixture on any outlet’s drink menu in today’s world.”
It’s all about the serve these days. Here are two R White's cocktail recipes you can try for yourself or, to learn more about other serves and recipes available, go to www.pourmoreflavour.com
Raspberry White Collins
Serves: 1 | Prep Time: 6 mins
10ml Raspberry R White's
5ml Lemon Juice
1. Half fill a collins glass with ice
2. Pour in the gin, lemon juice & gomme
3. Top with Raspberry R White's
4. Garnish with mint leaves, fresh raspberries and icing sugar
Serves: 1 | Prep Time: 6 mins
25ml Jack Daniel's whiskey
200ml R White's Lemonade
1 Fresh Wedge of Lemon
1. Half-fill a 12oz or fill a 16oz highball glass with ice
2. Add the Jack Daniel’s® and Cointreau®
3. Pour in the R White's Lemonade
4. Garnish with the lemon wedge