Peter Spanton, a former restaurateur who launched his own range of premium mixers in 2012, believes the industry is just beginning to wake up to the opportunities for maximising profits withinthe alcohol-free category.
He explains: “The boom in cocktail sales shows how much customers love the theatre of having a high quality drink mixed for them by a skilled bartender, and it’s essential customers who choose not to drink don’t feel they’re getting second best.
“In fact, the paucity of choice of nonalcoholic drinks for adults is the key reason I developed our range of adult soft drinks and mixers in the first place.”
The trend isn’t slowing down and pubs must keep up the pace, Spanton adds.
Grown up drinks
“The demographics show consumers are drinking less, and so expect to be offered premium, genuinely grown up, non-alcoholic serves on many more occasions.
“The market for mocktails is only going to increase, and pubs and bars that aren’t meeting demand will simply see customers vote with their feet.”
When it comes to alcoholic drinks, the natural thing to consider may be the spirit but, in fact, the premium mixer category is rapidly growing, with new products that reflect the trend in customers’ rising expectations.
Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) unveiled a range of four drinks that were designed to be mixed with premium dark spirits earlier this year.
In addition, Franklin & Sons revealed a four-pack tonic water range in an attempt to create a unique experience for pubgoers.
Shortly after the launch of the four new mixers, CCEP GB commercial development vice-president Simon Harrison said: “Coca-Cola has always been part of cocktail culture and history, from the Cuba Libre of the 1900s to some of the world’s best cocktails today.
“There is no other brand or recipe that is more mysterious and iconic than Coca-Cola, and we are excited to be able to introduce this new and innovative product to the on-trade."
Millennials are visiting on trade sites less. However, the average spend per head among the age group has risen by 3% according to Carlsberg UK’s latest Consumer Insights Report.
More than half (54%) of 18 to 34-year olds said they were likely to choose a high quality drink or would pay more to upgrade to one, according to the CGA Strategy BrandTrack, February 2017.
With this in mind, it is crucial for operators to ensure customers are enticed by drinks offers they can justify paying a little more for. And it is not just younger drinkers who can be appealed to in this way, there are opportunities across the board to push up margins and give customers an experience worth writing home – or posting on Instagram – about.