Soft option

Related tags Soft drinks Coca-cola

What are the big challenges for the soft drinks market in the next 12 months?The big challenges in the on-trade remain the same and they still...

What are the big challenges for the soft drinks market in the next 12 months?

The big challenges in the on-trade remain the same and they still represent opportunities to licensed premises for greater profit. These are: quality, visibility and choice. Do the soft drinks taste and look great? Can people see them?

Are there the right products available to meet ever-changing consumer needs? The retailing challenge is to make consumers aware of the increased choice and to exceed their expectations on delivery.

The launch of Coke Zero has been very successful. However, the company spent £10m in four weeks in the UK alone. Do you think the success is simply a matter of marketing muscle rather than the quality of the product?

Consumers are bombarded with advertising media from so many sources that to cut through in a short period of time is essential for a major launch.

Coke Zero is responding to a consumer need to get the great taste of Coke without the sugar. Satisfying that consumer need is why the product has been received so well. In the on-trade the product is packaged in our Iconic Coke bottle and has already matched the distribution of its parent brand in the same packaging.

Do you think soft drinks are priced fairly in pubs and bars? There is a perception among some consumers that they are overpriced.

The trade has to think about soft drink pricing carefully. With recent changes in the on-trade we all want to bring in more families, more women and those consumers who haven't traditionally gone out to pubs.

With lunch being a key time for soft drinks and food it's key to make comparisons to the competition which are also challenging for the lunchtime pound. The first thing is to make sure that your customer service, product quality and delivery is as good as you can make it, which would be the first step towards ensuring any premiums are justified.

Are licensees really making the most of the opportunities that exist with soft drinks?

Many are; there are some food-led businesses where soft drinks represent the largest drinks sector and which work hard at making sure their offering is well communicated and varied to meet the needs of their consumers. Many other retail businesses use soft drinks to drive traffic at lunchtime which is an area we see too few examples of in the on-trade.

Why is there so much brand loyalty in soft drinks, something that doesn't exist to the same degree in other drink categories? Is it simply a matter of distribution?

Great brands will always command great loyalty. Think of the Iconic Coke bottle which is in massive growth - not driven by historic distribution but by people engaging with the brand. You won't get brand loyalty from having your product in many different pubs, loyalty is born when a drinker is more than happy with the drinking experience compared to the alternatives. This is true for drinker loyalty to pubs too.

How hard is it to introduce innovation in the on-trade and get it to stick?

Very. There are 110,000 licensed premises which are all different in shape, size, offering and customer base, so there is no "one size fits all" solution. In addition, communicating a new product to all those decision-makers is a tough and expensive job, let alone communicating to staff and then to customers. What is starting to make it easier is the industry recognising the need for innovation in order to meet its changing consumer needs, and becoming more open to changing ranges and trying non-traditional offerings.

It's my round - what will you be drinking?

Vodka and Schweppes Russchian please.


  • 2005 ​- head of on-trade marketing Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE)
  • 2003​ - business development manager (new business) CCE
  • 2001​ - trade marketing manager Greene King
  • 2000​ - on-trade marketing wholesale CCE
  • 1997​ - business development manager (S&N) CCE
  • 1997​ - business development executive (Courage) CCE
  • 1995​ - regional sales Coca-Cola & Schweppes Beverages

Related topics Soft & Hot Drinks

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