5 top tips for selling soft drinks in convenience channels

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/jackf
Pic:getty/jackf

Related tags convenience

Soft drinks are now bigger than baked goods in UK convenience retail channels. How can shops make the most of this growth?

For the first time on record, last year soft drinks were bought on more occasions that bread loaves and sweet baked items, according to Lumina Intelligence’s Convenience Tracking Programme (52 weeks ending January 2024).

In 2022, soft drinks were bought on 23.6% of trips to convenience stores: just behind baked goods at 23.8%. Fast-forward to 2023 and soft drinks surged ahead: bought on 26.1% of trips compared to 25% of trips for baked goods.

UK soft drink manufacturer and distributor Britvic identifies this as a milestone for soft drinks producers and the 48,500 convenience retailers operating in the UK. How can brands and retailers capitalize on this? Here are the company's top tips.

1)  Understand the occasion

indulgence getty marencauroso

It’s no surprise that most drinks sold through c-stores are packaged in formats best suited for immediate consumption.

But beyond that, shoppers buy soft drinks in c-stores for a number of reasons.

Convenience and hydration might be important, but in fact the most strong motivation identified by shoppers is the treat occasion, claimed by half of shoppers.

2)  Flavor fun

fruit getty marencauroso

Limited edition flavors play a key role in generating excitement among shoppers.

Britvic gestures to the performance of Tango Sugar Free Limited Editions, which was launched in 2022​ to drive excitement in the fruit flavored carbonated category.

Paradise Punch achieved sales of $4.2m last year, while Berry Peachy reached £3.4m in 2022.

Britvic expects similar success for this year’s launches: Tango Cherry Blast & Raspberry Blast and Tango Editions Mango.

3)  Visibility

sandwich getty marencauroso

Positioning interesting, refreshing, and chilled drinks at prominent spots in store is helping to drive impulse sales.

That can also include positioning drinks next to snacks and sandwiches, where consumers are looking for drinks to accompany a meal.

Spots near the till are another way to attract impulse purchases.

4)  Stock the right drinks

sports drink getty labazele

The top five soft drink segments in convenience are stimulants (energy), cola, carbonated fruit drinks, plain water and sports drinks.

Sports drinks were a star performer in the convenience channel in 2023, showing strong value growth of 64.6% yoy and adding £75.3m to the category.

The top five launches in 2023, according to Circana data, were Fanta Grapefruit and Pineapple (which replaced Lilt)​; Red Bull Stimulants Mixed Fruit; Tango Sugar Free Paradise Punch; Lucozade Zero Sports Berry, and Boost Sport Mango/Raspberry.

5)  Clear promotions

pizza cola imagesource

Clear communication is crucial to help shoppers with their missions. It’s key for retailers to communicate promotions clearly along the path to purchase.

That could mean including soft drinks with clearly marked meal deals; or stocking larger bottles of soda in chillers next to pizzas and ready-meals.

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