They explored the changes occurring in the energy drinks market, how Purdey’s is tapping into the trends and what convenience retailers can do to ensure they are evolving with changing shopper demand, thereby increasing their sales and profits.

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Some key takeaways

The functional wellness drinks segment is presenting the convenience channel with a healthy £27m opportunity this year, equating to an additional £812 per store, according to the latest Britvic Soft Drinks Review. At a time when the pandemic has shone a light on health and wellness for many, 37% of people are now positively interested in premium soft drinks with added benefits.

Owing to changing shopper behaviour during the pandemic, categories traditionally associated with food to go were heavily impacted – but a focus on wellness as restrictions continue to ease is set to help retailers regain sales in this area of soft drinks.

While overall the category experienced value and volume declines in total convenience last year, take-home, larger format soft drinks were one of the channel’s outstanding performers. Reaching a third of soft drinks sales and growing 19% (+£117.9m) , the performance cements 2020 as a year of two halves for the category.

£800 opportunity for convenience stores through functional drinks, says Britvic

While healthier alternatives such as low and no sugar options have been gaining ground for some time, the pandemic has increased focus on health and wellness for many. 64% of consumers are prioritising health and seeking to integrate wellbeing into nearly all aspects of their lives , including food and drink.

As millions switched to working from home, lunchtime trade suffered. At the peak of the pandemic in April 2020, 60% of convenience shoppers were working from home, relying on home kitchens for meals. This move created a change in dynamic for shopper missions, with planned top-up shops becoming more important at the expense of on-the-go food and drink.

Three key soft drink needs emerged last year, with ‘energy boost’, ‘in-home refreshment and socialising’ and ‘a new stance of hydration’ heavily impacting category winners. The top five soft drink segments remained as cola, stimulants, fruit carbs, plain water and juice drinks – the former three added £80.3m growth alone – but stimulants was the star contributor by far.

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Steps to success:

  • Protect loyalty in take home: take-home soft drinks shoppers are hugely valuable to convenience versus an average shopper, spending £894 a year versus £446 on average, with spend growing by £58 in 2020. Retailers must work to retain long term loyalty, offering good value versus competitor channels on these formats
  • Recover and reset food-to-go sales: with soft drinks as the leading category bought on food-to-go missions, it is well placed to support retailers recover and reset sales by having the right range to meet new consumer needs
  • Hero functional wellness to drive more value per drink: provide a range of great tasting drinks for consumers to manage their health, whether they be sugar free, low calorie or natural options, or through functional wellness drinks with added benefits that offer a chance for retailers to drive up the cost per drink

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