After a false dawn or two, summer is now finally here, and with it comes the peak sales period for one of the most fast-paced soft drinks categories: bottled water. 

“Increasing interest in leading healthier lifestyles, coupled with rising temperatures as the summer season begins, means the bottled water category is more relevant than ever,” says Matt Gouldsmith, channel director for wholesale at Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS). “For every one-degree temperature change, soft drinks sales increase by 1.6%, so it’s hugely important stores have their ranges ready for the added demand.”

In 2019, a great range means stocking products in a host of sub-sectors including water-plus, sparkling waters and a burgeoning array of premium products. 

One particular area of growth is flavoured waters where all the major suppliers have launched products in recent years. “The flavoured water category is growing in popularity,” says Amy Burgess, trade communications director at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), “particularly among young people and millennials, who are increasingly health conscious but also looking for new and exciting flavour options.” 

Burgess adds: “The category offers consumers an alternative to traditional carbonated soft drinks, combining lower- and zero-sugar credentials with refreshing flavours and the hydration benefits of water.”

Despite these opportunities, there are challenges which suppliers want retailers to focus on. “Though water is experiencing strong volume growth of 5.3%, the lower average price (99p compared with the rest of soft drinks at £1.09) presents a unique challenge for the category,” says Rachel Phillips, out-of-home commercial director at Britvic. “This creates opportunities for retailers to trade customers up.”

With this in mind, betterRetailing has spoken with three retailers to discover how they approach this vital part of the market and learn their top strategies for the months ahead. 


Debbie Davies

Pughs@Londis, Hay-on-Wye,

Hereford

How do you build your range? 

We stock our still and sparkling water from a local supplier, Celtic Vale. Alongside this we offer a range of big-branded flavoured waters from Volvic. We stock Summer Fruits and Strawberry flavours, plus Orange & Peach in the larger 1.5l format. 

What is your sales strategy? 

In our local water, we stock a small 330ml bottle for 40p, a 500ml sports cap for 60p and either a 1l glass bottle or 1.5l plastic bottle for 95p, so we are very competitive. We have a really good turnover, so it’s still very profitable for us. 

How do you make the most of summer?

We have a lot of walkers who come in and pick up a bottle of water in the mornings, often alongside buying a store-made sandwich for the day. It’s a year-round opportunity, but the peak happens in the summer.


Nishi-Patel

Nishi Patel

Londis Bexley Park,

London 

How do you build your range? 

We make sure we have a cheap, medium and expensive option. Then we have flavours as well. It’s a strong category and we get deliveries four times a week. We stock Volvic flavours including Summer Fruits and Lemon & Lime, but Cherry is the bestseller.

What is your sales strategy? 

We add 5p or 10p on to RRPs but try to remain competitive. We have a gym next door and workers will also come in for sports-cap bottles. Pricing is a challenge because customers will spend more on a 500ml Evian than a 1.5l Volvic bottle.

How do you make the most of summer?

Water sells all year round, but we’re currently selling seven or eight cases per day compared with four usually. We stock all of our formats – including 1.5l bottles – chilled. That’s what customers want. 


David Robertson

Pozzis, Buckie,

Moray

How do you build your range? 

Our range includes budget waters such as Booker-brand Ice Valley, premium waters including San Pellegrino and flavoured waters. We also sell brands including Volvic and Evian, and on Strathmore we stock still, sparkling and four flavours for 69p. 

What is your sales strategy? 

It’s difficult to trade up because each of the segments in the market is different. There are kids and those on a budget who want a bottle for 50p, and then there are others who want the brand and are willing to pay nearer £2. 

How do you make the most of summer?

We stock the same 16 lines all year round and don’t add anything for summer. This is almost always an additional sale for us. In terms of margins, we stick to the RRP from wholesalers such as Booker to ensure we remain competitive.

Brand update

Ribena Frusion

Supported by a brand-wide £6.2m marketing campaign and a 600,000-bottle sampling push, Lucozade Ribena Suntory is moving the Ribena brand into the flavoured waters market for the first time. The product uses ‘blackcurrant water’ naturally infused with botanicals.

Lucozade Sport Fitwater

Having attracted sales of £2.8m since its launch in 2017, Fitwater is one of the big-brand entrants in to the functional waters market. The brand’s recent ‘More than water’ campaign aimed to reach 82% of health-conscious shoppers, highlighting its electrolyte-heavy contents.  

Glacéau Smartwater

CCEP’s lightly sparking flavoured waters range includes Berry & Kiwi, Grapefruit & Watermelon, Lemon and Green Apple. Manufacturer CCEP says the brand is aimed at attracting younger shoppers and a non-flavoured 850ml sports-cap format provides further on-the-go sales opportunities. 

Oasis Aquashock

CCEP launched the brand extension last year with two “exciting” flavours: Spicy Raspberry and Chilled Cherry. Aimed at “younger consumers looking for something different”, Aquashock sits alongside the core Oasis range as well as water-flavouring Oasis Mighty Drops.

Aqua Libra

Described as an “infused sparkling water” by manufacturer Britvic, the returning brand (it was once Princess Diana’s favourite) includes on-trend flavours such as Cucumber, Mint & Lime, Grapefruit & Pineapple and Raspberry & Apple. Aqua Libra is available in craft beer-style 330ml cans.

Drench and Refresh’d 

Recently relaunched with a preservative-free formulation, Drench has gained a new favour – Mandarin & Lemon. Britvic’s other major flavoured waters brand, Robinsons Refresh’d, uses real fruit-juice flavourings and is currently benefiting from a Wimbledon-inspired on-pack promotion.

What food to go products should retailers be stocking this summer? Click here to find out