Manufacturers target ‘sophisticated’ adult soft drinks market

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Soft drinks for young adults offers significant potential, says Britvic
Soft drinks for young adults offers significant potential, says Britvic

Related tags: Soft drinks, Soft drink, Alcoholic beverage

As young adults in particular drink significantly less alcohol, the creation of soft drinks for this audience represents a major opportunity, according to Britvic.

“Fewer and fewer people are drinking alcohol,”​ said Britvic UK md Paul Graham. “How do you give them a soft drink that’s grown-up and sophisticated? That is a fantastic opportunity.”

Graham, speaking in a debate about the future of ‘better-for-you’ soft drinks at the Food Matters Live (FML) event, held in London in November, pointed to research indicating growing numbers of self-declared teetotallers among millennials.

Research published in 2015 by think tank Demos showed that 19% of those in the 16–24 age bracket said they did not drink, with 66% saying alcohol was not important for their social life.

Did not drink alcohol

In a separate FML presentation, Britvic sustainable business manager Alison Rothnie referred to Office for National Statistics figures from 2014 suggesting that one-in-five British adults did not drink alcohol.

She highlighted the role of Britvic’s WiseHead Productions incubator business. The first product launched by WiseHead in the summer of 2016 was Thomas & Evans No. 1, a sparkling ‘zero proof’ drink flavoured with citrus and botanicals.

“It is produced via the same process as alcohol, but is zero percent proof,”​ said Rothnie. “It includes no added sugar and has a low calorie count​.” It also uses no alternative sweeteners.

While the adult juice-based J2O brand and Spritz variants are identified closely with Britvic and backed by a substantial advertising spend, the company appeared to suggest that niche brands with a quirky-but-traditional appeal benefit from more of an arm’s-length approach.

‘Slick’ brands

Among the exhibitors at FML was German-based soft drinks brand-owner Baikal, whose boss Joris van Velzen compared “slick”​ brands such as J2O with alternative brands sporting a craft or handmade image, such as Fentimans.

“Some people go for funkier brands displaying more self-irony,”​ said van Velzen. “And there is a sub-culture that is looking for a story, and for the sense that there is a bunch of enthusiastic people behind the brand.”

His Wostok range of adult soft drinks debuted in Germany in 2010 with a revival of the 1970s Baikal drink from the USSR, flavoured with pine needle oil.

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