A new day for soft drinks
After years of discussions, the government’s sugar tax is about to become law, as soft drinks companies manufacture new versions of classics as well as brand new innovations to prevent their products – or their customers – being subject to the tax, writes Doug Whelan
14 June 2018 | 0
As the winter finally becomes a thing of the past, the bright evenings and pleasant weather will lead to a boost in soft drink and energy drinks sales. The new sugar tax threatens to hit those sales, as price increases for those with high sugar content are unavoidable.
However, manufacturers have been hard at work reformulating for some time – years, in some cases – to ensure those best-known soft drink brands are not subject to the tax. The tax, though controversial in the sense that some sectors in the industry insist that sugary drinks consumption is on the decrease anyway, should in the long run prove to be a good thing. And now that families can enjoy those drinks while not consuming as much sugar as before, there’s a chance it may even boost sales in the long run!
Sugar free forever!
In a period of change for the soft drinks industry, the Coca-Cola Company has unveiled its adjustments for Sprite in Ireland. The new line-up will see original Sprite replaced with its zero sugar counterpart, which will take over the main brand name. To complement this change, a new Lemon Lime & Cucumber flavour (also containing zero sugar) has also been introduced.
The decision to replace Sprite with its sugar free alternative comes in conjunction with government’s sugar tax, but also taste tests showing the non-sugar recipe rating just as highly as the original. Both Sprite varieties are available now and come with a new brand identity that embraces Sprite’s original look while emphasising those natural flavours.
“Consumers everywhere are making an effort to reduce the amount of sugar in their diets,” says Pete Sandru, country manager for Coca-Cola Ireland, “while our taste tests consistently told us that the no-sugar Sprite rated just as highly as the original recipe. With these two facts in mind, we took the decision to replace the original Sprite with the no sugar option.
“Consumers can now choose the same great Sprite taste with no sugar,” Sandru says, “or select the exciting new natural flavour drink, Lemon Lime & Cucumber.
“Zero sugar Sprite has grown significantly in recent years,” Sandru continues. “Consumers want more sugar-free drinks and we are providing them with the same great taste of Sprite with new choices. We are confident that these decisions will reward loyal Sprite drinkers while also appealing to those people who are looking for something new.”
Sprite’s new line-up and new look will be supported with a major out-of-home, online video, and digital media campaign. In addition there will be nationwide sampling and in-store promotions.
The changes to Sprite are part of a wider project in the Coca-Cola Company to expand the range of zero sugar variants across all of its leading brands. Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Fanta have also seen zero sugar variants launched. These extensions, which are exempt from the government’s new tax on soft drinks, are part of the company’s strategy to ‘Hero Zero’ and make no sugar options the easier choice for consumers.
To help achieve this, further flavours hitting shelves include Diet Coke Exotic Mango, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Peach and Fanta Pink Grapefruit.
Currently 43% of all cola sold has no sugar and the company envisages that this will increase to greater than 55% by 2020.
Q&A with… Elizabeth Sheehan, marketing director at Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland
After years of back-and-forth, the government’s sugar tax is finally about to come into force, and all the months and years of preparation by the soft drinks companies are about to be put to the test. Will consumers respond to the new tax by making healthier choices, and will those choices have the desired effect? We caught up with Lucozade Ribena Suntory marketing director for Ireland, Elizabeth Sheehan, to discuss the company’s position in this new era for the industry.
Q: The government’s sugar tax comes into effect this month. What steps has Lucozade Ribena Suntory taken to ensure its products are not subject to the tax?
A: We took the lead on the sugar tax by announcing our plans as early as November 2016. This ensured it would be business as usual for our retail partners when the tax came into effect. Thanks to our ongoing efforts to meet consumer demand for lower-calorie drinks, all of our Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport, Ribena and Orangina drinks will be entirely exempt from the Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Tax. This means that it is no change from a retail perspective with regard to introduction of the tax for our brands.
Q: Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland’s pledge included plans to encourage consumers to make healthier choices. How has this side of the initiative been proceeding?
A: We are committed to providing healthier drinks as part of healthier lifestyles. We are encouraging more active lifestyles with the Lucozade Sport Made to Move campaign. The aim is to get Ireland moving more through working with our current sponsors to promote and activate training and participation in events such as the Dublin Marathon Series, Tough Mudder Ireland events, Run Galway Bay events, IGBF Fun Run, the LGBT Run and more. We have commenced a partnership with the IRFU targeted at people of all shapes, sizes, age and gender to exercise more in a very fun and inclusive way.
Q: Lucozade has been known for its high-profile advertising campaigns; what marketing is in place for the brand for 2018, and which products (including NPD) are set to be promoted during the summer months?
A: At LRS, we are always investing in our brands with award-winning marketing campaigns, ensuring we continue to have the number one brands in energy, sport and juice (i.e. Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport and Ribena). Lucozade Energy started 2018 with an exciting new partnership with Tomb Raider – nearly 20 years since the initial partnership featuring the iconic video game character Lara Croft. The campaign will be unmissable with ads on TV, outdoor, VOD, social, sampling and in-store. We also plan to invest in Lucozade Zero. It was the biggest soft drink launch of 2017 and within a year it has achieved over 90% distribution and is the third bestselling brand in terms of UROS within the Zero category. We will continue to invest in the brand; its current sponsorship of First Dates on RTÉ will enhance visibility through 2018.
Q: What is the long term view for soft drinks in terms of their content and the health pros and cons?
A: We believe that the sugar sweetened tax will accelerate a trend that is already there. Consumers are asking for lower sugar drinks – 37% of all carbonates drinks sold in Ireland are low or no calorie. This part of the market is growing fast (+7.1%). We also know from extensive Irish consumer research that consumers are increasingly checking their sugar intake, with 68% actively choosing low sugar options.
Since 2002, soft drinks growth has been delivered through three main areas – energise, hydration and refreshment – with energy and water getting share gain. We don’t expect this trend to change. There is also a macro trend towards aspirations for a healthier and cleaner lifestyle; food and drinks choice are an important part of this. Finally, sustainability and CSR projects will be important contributors to long term brand success.
Save your brain
Ireland’s favourite water brand Ballygowan is tapping into growing consumer demand for healthier options. It has a range of soft drinks and juices with adult appeal that combine spring water and quality juices to deliver mealtime accompaniments or break-time pick-me-ups alike. The taste has proven a hit in blind tests, while the premium look and feel guarantee standout on shelves in-store.
Juicy Drench is ideal for consumers on-the-go, providing tasty refreshment and hydration in a 500ml wide-neck bottle. Drench is the perfect compromise: it’s got enough spring water to make it “gluggable” and enough clean, crisp fruits to make it delicious. Plus, with no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners it meets consumers’ need for great taste with natural ingredients. And because it is sweetened with stevia leaf extract, it is low in sugar too.
Drench has been a huge hit with consumers and is growing at 43% in the last year*. This summer, the brand will be supported with a nationwide sampling and communications campaign, so stock up and wake up your sales now!
Meanwhile, with just 23 calories in every can, Ballygowan Sparklingly Fruity is a refreshingly different range of low calorie, low sugar Ballygowan Water drinks in a stylish can. With 12% fruit juice and naturally sweetened with stevia leaf extract the range is perfect for today’s health -conscious consumer. New Orange & Pineapple flavour is launching to complete the range alongside existing Raspberry & Blackberry and Apple Elderflower & Lemon. These flavours are available in both singles & six-pack cans.
As for the water, the key to the success for Ballygowan is its commitment to quality, a strong consumer engagement plan and product innovation. With 750 years of heritage and purity in its filtering process, Ballygowan is hydrating the nation and helping us look and feel our best.
Ballygowan leads the market with the broadest pack offering in the water sector. Available in Still and Sparkling across a variety of pack sizes and in both PET and glass, there is a pure water pack in every size plus the exciting range of flavoured waters we have seen.
*(Source: Nielsen Scantrack MAT Feb 2018)
March of this year saw a re-launch of Edge which included a full rebrand, packaging revamp and the introduction of a new Zero Sugar variant.
The energy category in Ireland is in strong growth of +6%* and this has been driven by the zero sugar segment. Edge has been in the Irish market since 2014, and in that time has continued to successfully grow ahead of the energy market at +18.7%*
The brand’s new premium packaging has a striking presence with strong energy cues on-pack and a premium tactile finished can. Edge now offers more choice to the consumer with both its full sugar “Fully Charged Energy Drink Ultimate” variant and its New Zero Sugar “Fully Charged Energy Drink Advanced Red” variant. Both variants are available in 500ml cans.
The re-launch will be supported through strong in-store POS, trade press and digital support.
*(Source: Nielsen scantrack total value ROI Feb 2018)
Another manufacturer keen to keep up with consumer demand and prevailing sentiment, Britvic Ireland is pioneering a new category of “naturally boosted energy drinks”. Purdey’s is naturally boosted by botanicals and vitamins, channelled into a 250ml bullet can, while a brand new drink known as Café Spark is also hitting shelves.
Following extensive research, Britvic found that just one in 25 energy occasions is satisfied by a traditional energy drink. Consumers more often go to tea, coffee, fruit and even protein bars for their energy needs. The research also demonstrated that 40% of consumers outright reject traditional stimulant drinks, with only one in nine people buying them regularly. With this Britvic saw the opportunity for a more adult proposition to help drive category growth.
Using coffee beans, Café Spark extracts the same amount of caffeine as an espresso, before adding sparkling water and a dusting of sugar. The product is exempt from the sugar tax with only 4.7g per 100ml. It is available in a distinct 250ml green can demonstrating its natural and adult credentials. The Café Spark and Purdeys brands will be supported with an extensive TTL campaign including TV, outdoor, instore, digital and sampling campaign for both brands.
Launched in January of this year, Robinsons Refresh’d is 100% naturally sourced using spring water mixed with real fruit and is aimed at busy consumers looking for something different. It taps into consumers’ growing demand for healthier options with the water-plus category experiencing double digit growth, +17% in the latest MAT*.
Robinsons Refresh’d comes in two tasty flavour combinations – Raspberry & Apple and Apple & Kiwi – and will appeal to consumers seeking more interesting and healthy fruit drink options. The flavours have been developed to pair perfectly with water, delivering a burst of taste that is light and refreshing.
At just 55kcal per 500ml serving and with no artificial colours, flavourings, sweeteners or preservatives, Robinsons Refresh’d offers a solution to health-conscious consumers looking to stay hydrated throughout the day. And naturally, with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml, the entire range is exempt from the sugar tax.
*(Source: Nielsen Scantrack Grocery MAT January 2018)
One for all
There is no doubt that the sugar tax is the biggest shakeup the soft drinks industry has seen in many years. With this in mind, Grocery Brand Solutions has partnered with Carabao International to launch a range of great-tasting, low-sugar energy drinks into the Irish market. The range is currently rolling out across Tesco, Musgrave stores, Stonehouse and BWG Group customers nationwide.
Carabao has developed a range to provide as much product variety as possible, all with low or no-sugar. In fact, Carabao is the only energy drink brand in Ireland to offer exclusively low-sugar or sugar-free product formats that appeal to an inclusive audience, all in a 330ml can.
Carabao is on a mission to bring new audiences to the energy drinks market. This means creating a wide variety of products, but also offering light, refreshing, low and no-sugar energy boosts that appeal to all ages and genders. Carabao is currently available in Original, Sugar Free, Green Apple, and Green Apple Sugar Free, and continues to develop further varieties which will appeal to those who aren’t traditionally energy drink fans. The company says these new flavour profiles will be benchmarked against more mainstream soft drinks and juices, rather than other energy drink products.
Aiming to bring more consumers into the category, the range is supported by a multimillion euro marketing and sponsorship plan more inclusive than the traditional extreme sports and teen-focused marketing strategies of other major energy drink brands.
Carabao is available now from Grocery Brand Solutions Ltd. For more information, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ireland’s largest independent water brand, Celtic Pure has been owned and operated by the McEneaney family since it was first established. Inspired by this family connection, the brand recently carried out a survey of Irish families to learn what “pure moments” make them happy. The survey was carried out across 679 Irish families with children up to 18 years of age to give a new insight into Irish family life today.
The survey revealed that more than half of Irish families consider themselves happy. The survey showed that the purest moments of Irish families include eating meals together, spending quality time as a family and getting outdoors.
77% of those surveyed said the birth of their children was their purest life moment followed by the first time their child said “I love you”, while bedtime came out on top as our favourite daily moment.
Celtic Pure says that family is the centrepiece of its business and the survey was conducted to encourage families to realise and savour their everyday moments. The research allowed the company to get a better understanding of their customers and Irish families.
The McEneaney family values have been built on community and creating moments that matter; on recognising what is important in life, the beauty of nature, the support of family, the passion that makes life worth living. These are the values on which the Celtic Pure brand and Pure Moments are built!
The first naturally flavoured sparkling coconut water on the market, CocoFuzion 100 is made using tender young coconuts with a unique composition that makes it exempt from the sugar tax. It has already been endorsed by some of the biggest sports names around, including international rugby legends, Jamie Heaslip, Bryan Habana and Chris Robshaw; tennis star Milos Raonic and British boxing champion Chris Eubank Jr.
The brand’s aim is to make the benefits of coconut water – low calorie, zero fat and containing only natural sugars, available to all, including the health conscious, sports teams, children and anyone searching for an alternative to sugar. With four flavours to choose from – Natural, Raspberry, Mango and Lime – the brand provides a solution for those consumers who understand the benefits of coconut water but have yet to find a great tasting product.
Since launching last year, CocoFuzion 100 has been steadily growing in the Irish market through its offer to consumers of more choice in health consciousness. The naturally low-calorie coconut water can be found in the convenience chill food section. SuperValu, Centra, Spar, Tesco and others have welcomed the innovative products into their stores across the country. The two variants are available now in 250ml cans (sparkling) and 330ml bottles (still) respectively in retailers across Ireland.
Big is beautiful
There are few brands that can boast a “household name” status like Red Bull, and it’s still growing. In fact, the Red Bull big cans are growing faster than the brand as a whole, at 21% YSA*.
As we are seeing, category growth across the Irish market is being driven by “big cans” and sugar-free varieties of energy drinks. Big can energy drinks grew by 30% volume last year*. To keep building on this success, Red Bull is introducing its newest offering, Red Bull Sugarfree 355ml.
Red Bull Sugarfree 355ml provides the same effect as Red Bull but with no sugar, and will join the current Red Bull Sugarfree range of Red Bull Sugarfree 250ml, Red Bull Sugarfree Tropical Edition (New) and Red Bull Sugarfree Orange Edition (New). Retailers stocking these varieties side by side in all flavours will provide ample new choice for consumers as well as an eye-catching variation on Red Bull’s instantly recognisable brand identity. For more information, see RedBull.ie
*(Source: Nielsen Scantrack – Ireland, 2017 vs YA)
The objective of many sports energy drinks is to replace the fluids lost during strenuous activity; Boost Sport does so in an “intelligent” way. Boost provides an essential carbohydrate boost and drives endurance levels while reducing fatigue, giving consumers “the fuel to perform better, for longer”.
Boost Sport, comes in 500ml PET bottles price marked at €0.99, and is available in three flavours: Orange, Tropical Berry and Mixed Berry.
Last year, challenger brand Boost Drinks updated its isotonic sports drink offer with a striking new look, new packaging and a new recipe. Boost Sport’s look is now more in line with that of a sports product. In flavour variant colourways, Boost Sport provides a stand out range of products, which are very popular with consumers.
The bottle design also took on a new look, with an evolved shape that was more reflective of the isotonic sports drink subcategory. This enhancement of Boost Sport was part of a wider brand refresh across other ranges.
“Investing in new product development is a key part of our commitment to customers,” says Simon Gray, Boost founder and managing director. “The sport category in the Republic of Ireland performs very well, so it makes complete sense for us to build on the opportunity in this category.”
Boost features a product range across sport and energy drinks, stimulation energy and sports/isotonic; all are great-tasting products and excellent value for money for consumers, while also delivering very strong margins for retailers.