Drinking habits: Trying something new

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drinks, Juice

INNOVATION IS one of the key planks of any drinks marketing strategy - both individual brands and whole categories will not progress unless there is...

INNOVATION IS one of the key planks of any drinks marketing strategy - both individual brands and whole categories will not progress unless there is innovation to stimulate the consumer.

As if to underline this opinion I recently saw a business card, belonging to a sales manager at a drinks company, which had the slogan 'Growth through Innovation' emblazoned on the back.

However, one thing that is rarely talked about is how innovation can only work if it captures the imagination of the consumer. So often the trade press can report on product launches or the unveiling of a new marketing strategy, only for us never to hear of it again.

Our survey, conducted with specialist direct marketing company Box Marketing, has shown that the great British pub-going public is ever more willing to embrace new innovation and change their drinking habits.

New habits

And this is not simply a matter of brand switching - it is about changing categories, or indeed ways of drinking. There is perhaps no better example of drinkers changing their habits than their enthusiastic adoption of the over-ice serve in cider. Habits have changed so much that ice is now being pushed in wine, beer and sherry.

Sixty per cent of licensees said customers are changing their drinking habits 'noticeably quicker' in comparison to five years ago. Added to this, more than half our respondents said they had to change their weekly order to keep up with changing consumer drinking habits.

And it is fascinating to see that 81 per cent of licensees state that it is women who are changing their choice of drinks most frequently. It suggests that many brewers have a safe market of loyal male beer drinkers to rely on and that it will take a lot to shift them from that. Women, on the other hand, are a much more exciting market to work with - their leisure pound is, to a large extent, up for grabs.

Arguably the most interesting question is left for last - asking licensees which drinks categories have gone through the most changes in recent years.Marked changes

There are two results that really stand out. Firstly, licensees said fruit juices have gone through the most significant change.

It is often remarked that while there are lots of new juice products in the off-trade, innovation in soft drinks really doesn't get too much of a look-in in pubs - mainly down to the dominance of Britvic and Coca-Cola Enterprises. Well, 90 per cent of respondents would appear to disagree! And this suggests there has been a great demand and impact from the fresh fruit juice and smoothie revolution.

The other fascinating result is to see which drinks categories have NOT gone through significant change - with spirits being the most surprising. Only nine per cent of licensees believe that category has undergone significant change - which just shows how hard it has been for all those product launches, brand extensions and new flavour variations in the spirits market to break through and gain listings in pubs.

The results in full

1. How quickly are customers changing their choice of drinks compared to five years ago?

Rapidly 5%Noticeably 60%Little change 30%No change 5%

2. How frequently do you have to alter your weekly orders to keep up with changing drinks habits?

Considerably 8%Noticeably 51%Little difference 33%No difference 8%

3. Younger drinks are considered to change their choice of drinks most frequently. Which statement matches your views best?

Younger drinkers are more likely to change their choice of drinks 35%It is mainly younger drinkers who change their choice of drinks 57%Age is not a factor in customers changing their choice of drinks 8%

4. Do you find that it is women or men who change their choice of drinks most frequently?

Women 81%Men 12%No difference 7%

5. In future, do you think customers will change their choice of drinks more frequently?

Yes, considerably 18%Yes, noticeably 74%No 8%

6. How much extra work is created by customers changing their choice of drinks?

The change in the drinks range creates significantly more work 14%The change in the drinks range creates more work 64%The change in the drinks range creates little more work 22%

7. How much support do you get from drinks brand owners with the introduction of new drinks?

No support 12%Little support 34%Reasonable support 21%Good support 24%Very good support 9%

8. Please indicate which drinks categories have gone through significant change. (Licensees were asked to name as many categories as they liked.)

Fruit juice 90%Bottled cider 83%Bottled beer 34%Wine 29%Draught cider 14%RTDs 11%Spirits 9%Bottled lager 8%Colas 1%Carbonated drinks 1%Mixers 1%

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