Coca-Cola is investing heavily in its Schweppes brand as it looks to tap into growing consumer demand for “quality” mixers and fight off newer competitors such as Fever-Tree.
The investment, its biggest in the UK in more than 200 years, aims to give the brand “a new beginning” as part of a 15-month campaign to reinvigorate the brand. The bottle for its ‘classic’ range is being redesigned, with the new shape modelled on the original Schweppes ‘skittle’ created by inventor Jacob Schweppe in 1783.
There will also be a £6.6m campaign, created by Recipe, that will run between October and December 2017 that includes out-of-home, TV and cinema advertising as well as sponsorship of the Jonathan Ross Show, experiential marketing and a digital campaign. The aim, says Aedermar Howlett, marketing director at Coca-Cola Great Britain, is to “re-establish the brand in the hearts and minds of consumers”.
The move by Coca-Cola comes on the back of strong growth in the market. Euromonitor figures show volume sales in the UK mixers category have grown from 193 million litres in 2011 to 209 million in 2016. However, sales are now slowly declining after peaking at 212 million litres in 2014.
And even though Schweppes is still the market leader with a 32.6% share in 2016, its piece of the pie is getting smaller as newer competitors such as Fever-Tree and private label brands grow their share.
Focusing on craft with a new range
Where brands such as Fever-Tree have been so successful is in jumping on the craft craze and making the mixer as important part of the drink as what it is being mixed with. And Schweppes, eager to capitalise on the trend, is rolling out a new range of premium mixers called Schweppes 1783 that includes flavours such as golden ginger ale, salty lemon tonic water, cucumber tonic water and floral tonic water.
The 1783 brand is predominantly aimed at bars and pubs, which is why the range will be available to taste at festivals and cocktail events, and be supported by PR and digital through well known mixologists and influencers.
Howlett says the range was created in response to consumers looking for quality products and as it looks to “future proof” the business.
“I suppose craft is one way to describe it, but it’s more based around the fact that it’s specifically designed to pair with premium spirits. There are certain consumers who are looking for quality,” she says.
“We have a very long heritage, 225 years in Great B. As part of this, we want to future proof our brand and the business. We already have some more [products] in the pipeline as spirit trends emerge.”
To communicate Schweppes’ point of difference, the brand is looking to focus on its roots and the role it plays in consumers’ lives. And while Howlett claims it takes the product and packaging very seriously, its advertising will take a more light-hearted tone.
We have a very long heritage, 225 years in Great Britain. As part of this, we want to future proof our brand and the business.
Aedamar Howlett, Coca-Cola Great Britain
She explains: “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, because we know people in social occasions want to have fun. We will continue that tone of voice in terms of dry British humour that has been part of our campaigns over the years, but the key difference is that we’re putting the product and drinking experience front and centre.”
Becoming a ‘total beverage company’
Coca-Cola’s new CEO James Quincey has focused the company’s strategy on becoming a “total beverage company”, as it looks to reduce its reliance on the flagship Coke brand and promote a more diverse portfolio of brands.
And Howlett says the company sees a bigger market for Schweppes that this investment will hopefully kickstart.
“Yes – it’s part of us having a broader portfolio and investing across the portfolio, but it hasn’t been the primary reason as to why we’ve done it. We’re listening to our consumers constantly, and our adult consumers were telling and showing us that there was a bigger opportunity for Schweppes to grow,” she says.