Time to innovate to accumulate

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Related tags: Soft drinks, Juice

Martin Hartridge, managing director of the soft drinks company that bears his name, believes large manufacturers are not doing enough to help the...

Martin Hartridge, managing director of the soft drinks company that bears his name, believes large manufacturers are not doing enough to help the sector grow. "I find it perverse that we're innovating and they are not. We are not large enough to dictate to the trade, that is why we need the large companies to innovate and take the lead." Hartridges' MD hopes that in the next three to five years, the soft drinks sector will "move away from the pile it high, sell it cheap mentality". He adds: "I hope the industry goes towards offering value-added, upsized, well-presented products." He also feels consumers are willing to pay so long as they perceive that they are getting value for money. "If you look at cinemas, footfalls had been declining for 30 years and then along came videos and now DVDs. You'd think that this would have affected them even more, but what's happened is that audiences have come back because cinema operators have changed the whole image of the industry with multiplex, out-of-town cinemas creating a completely new experience." Hartridges feels pubs need to follow that example and soft drinks manufacturers have a part to play in that transformation by offering quality at affordable prices. Over the last 18 months, the Hampshire-based company has done its part by launching no fewer than four new ranges of drinks. First, there was a range of organic fruit juices, soon followed by Sparkling Diet Fruits, the h range of mixed fruit juice drinks, and, last month, an upsized (200ml) range of mixers. Another of Hartridges' gripes is the policy of drinks suppliers supplying the same products to both the on and off-trades. "If members of the public see a product that is reassuringly cheap in Tesco, but reassuring expensive in a pub, what sort of message is that to publicans ­ it is not giving them a chance. "If people are charged £1.30 for a bottle of Coke in a pub that they can get for 35p in a supermarket or charged £1.30 for a J2O that they can buy for half the price, it is sending out the wrong signals. We are trying to look after and support the publicans, but I'm not sure that other companies that are doing likewise.

Related topics: Marketing

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