‘Heavyweight ad campaigns’ help UK soft drinks sales top £10bn for first time

A slew of “heavyweight” promotions and advertising campaigns designed to reassure price conscious shoppers they were getting value for money helped boost UK soft drinks sales past the £10bn mark for the first time in 2013.

Share a Coke
Soft drinks sales topped £10bn in 2013, according to the latest Britvic Soft drinks Review.

Soft drinks sales grew 2 per cent to £10bn last year, according to the annual Britvic Soft Drinks Review, which is complied using Nielsen and CGA Strategy market data. Sales were buoyed by pleasant summer weather, the demand for value for money, brands, premium products and healthier propositions, Britvic says.

The report also suggests a combination of new product development – such as Vimto and J2O launching new 250ml formats – and promotions offering value to the increasingly “savvy shopper” helped keep soft drinks brands front of mind, boosting sales as a result in 2013.

Cola remained the grocery category’s top performer, with value sales rising 2.7 per cent to £1.6bn. Pepsi Max and Coke Zero saw a particularly strong rise in sales, which the report credits to high profile marketing campaigns and the nation’s increased focus on healthier options.

Coca-Cola brands grew sales by 3.4 per cent to £1.19bn, outperforming Pepsi brands, which registered a 2.7 per cent increase in sales to £362m. The rise in Coke sales is likely in part due to its high-profile summer “Share a Coke” promotion, which the company saw so successful it is currently repeating around the globe.

UK cola brands invested heavily in campaigns to drive awareness of their low sugar options last year, spurred by many new suppliers signing up and continuing their support of the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. Coca-Cola, for example, launched a major anti-obesity push, while PepsiCo continued its advertising investment to support its low-sugar Pepsi Max brand.

Elsewhere, glucose and energy drinks grew ahead of the total category, with a 7 per cent increase in value sales in the convenience sector. Britvic says the rise can be attributed to the nation “leading increasingly busy lives”. Within the sector Red Bull outperformed closest competitor Lucozade with sales rising 7 per cent to £252m, although the latter brand remained the best-seller with a 32 per cent share of the category.

In the leisure sector, value sales remained static at £2.8bn, although volume sales dipped slightly. Food-focused outlets dominated the total market, with sales growing 4 per cent in value and reaching more than £2bn, which Britvic says was lifted by the growing casual dining trend.

Paul Graham, Britvic general manager, says: “Shaped by multiple consumer trends, such as value, premiumisation, heath and convenience, we have seen a wealth of innovation hit the market, all of which has helped to keep the sector relevant and exciting amongst a diverse audience. This combined with an unpredicted summer of sunshine; it’s unsurprising for the first time the category topped the £10bn mark. We are confident that this successful performance and the continued evolution of the category is paving the way for a positive and exciting future.”