Schwartz September 2019

Making Soft Drinks Special

When customers start to return to your outlet, they will be looking to treat themselves after long months away from their favourite bars and restaurants. And, whether they’ve been overindulging in lockdown, or are part of the growing numbers who have decided to give alcohol a miss, now is the time to develop a soft drink offering to inspire them.

These are the trends that you could consider tapping into…

Taste sensations

The chances are customers will have tired of run of the mill soft drink options and will be looking for something new and different when they get out and about again. Tantalise their taste buds with on-trend sour flavours including apple, lemon and lime or more unusual flavours such as rhubarb, hibiscus and tamarind. You could try non-alcoholic drinking vinegars or top trending drinks such as fizzy fermented green tea kombucha which also has benefits for the digestive system. These drinks often include less sugar so also tick a health box.

Sustainability

Sustainability is front and centre when it comes to issues surrounding the food and drink supply chain and the issue is likely to become even more pressing in the wake of behavioural changes made during lockdown.

From the miles the product has had to travel to its packaging, consumers are actively seeking out products that ease their environmental conscience. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have committed to increasing the amount of recycled material they use in their packaging – for example PepsiCo has committed to making sure every one of its plastic bottles contains at least 50% recycled plastic by 2030. Speak to your supplier about the green credentials of their products.

Plant based

Many soft drinks have always been plant based – from juice to tea and coffee. Although fizzy drinks that include artificial ingredients still make up the largest share of the soft drinks market, the carbonated drinks market as a whole is in decline. It’s a good idea to make sure you have all your customers’ old favourites however, why not explore some of the new and varied plant-based options that are on the market. There’s everything from almond-based juice drinks to a huge range of fruit smoothies.

Functionality

The trend for drinks which claim to do more than quench thirst – from tart cherry juice which is reported to improve sleep to juices which boost the immune system such as kale or spinach – has exploded in the US and is starting to make its mark in the UK. Drinks infused with CBD – cannabidiol – are the latest trend with many of the large drinks manufacturers investing in new CBD-infused options which are said to ease anxiety and mental health conditions and help sufferers of chronic pain. Collagen, which is important for skin, hair and nails is also being added to drinks and you could investigate energy drinks which combine caffeine, guarana extracts and B vitamins.

No and low

When customers return to the bars and restaurants, even if they aren’t drinking it is a good idea to have a range of drinks that will make them feel like they are having a proper night out. From Peroni to Heineken, an increasing number of beer brands have produced a 0.0% drink and some are now infused with CBD bringing together the wellness and non-alcoholic beverage trends. You’ll also find several different alcohol-free sparkling wines available. Don’t forget that a good range of mocktails is also important.

Your customers will be inspired to order and pay more for their non alcoholic drinks if they see a drink made and served in an interesting and thoughtful way – in essence, the same way as you would serve an alcoholic version. And for a perfect serve the extra touches of a good garnish not only adds an extra flavour dimension to a drink, but shows you care and allows you to charge a premium price.

Child-friendly options

The lockdown has been a long haul for families, with no opportunity for family outings so don’t forget your youngest visitors when you’re planning your soft drink offering ready for customers to return. Smoothies are a wonderful way of getting children to “eat” fruit and vegetables and their parents will thank you for including a range of healthy, colourful and tasty options (sweeten up savoury flavours like kale by pairing them with pineapple or spinach with blueberries). Coconut milk is a healthier alternative to traditional fizzy, sugary drinks and with 48% of flavoured milk sales being chocolate-based then it’s wise to stock up on them too.

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