Long gone are the distant days when mixers were, frankly, more of an afterthought for the average Irish customer. Nowadays, shoppers are all too aware of the difference the right mixer can make to their enjoyment of a beverage that deserves to be savoured and discernment is subsequently at the forefront of their purchasing decisions, writes Gillian Hamill
26 September 2023
The gin renaissance – or ‘gin-aissance’ as it was coined – of recent years has ushered in a much greater focus within both Ireland’s on-trade and off-trade sectors on the importance of mixing not just gin – but indeed, all spirits – with a quality mixer which can elevate any drink into a cocktail of beauty worthy of a sophisticated socialising occasion.
During the pandemic, this became all-the-more important as customers sought to recreate a premium bar-like experience at home during lockdowns. In partnership with the National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA), ShelfLife regularly speaks to off-licence retailers who tell us that this has very much been the case within their stores. When their customers are socialising at home, they absolutely don’t want to risk disappointing friends and family with anything that could be perceived as an inferior choice: and so, they’re turning to the premium options with impressive flavour combinations made with quality ingredients, that they can trust to enhance the flavour of their drinks.
And with ever-greater numbers of Irish people realising the difference that a premium mixer can make to their beverages, it’s not surprising that they have become increasingly curious about seeking out new flavour experiences. The Irish market has subsequently seen increased consumer demand for alternative mixers; including ginger ale +6%, soda water +11%, and ginger beer +120% (Source: YTD Collated ROI EPOS Data to week 28, vs 2022).
Mintel has also reported on the importance within the wider drinks market of exploring more sustainable packaging materials to meet consumers’ growing expectations within this area. Lower sugar mixers are likewise a key trend for more health-conscious consumers, who want to enhance but not overpower the flavour of their drinks with mixers that are too sugary.
Elevating the socialising experience
Founded in 1783 by Jacob Schweppe, Schweppes offers a range of delicately balanced mixers, created with carefully selected ingredients for mixing drinks and quenching thirst. As Ireland’s number one mixer, Schweppes continues to bring bubbles into consumers lives through its unique effervescence and sparkling campaigns.
This year has seen some exciting changes for the brand, with the launch of its new ‘Born Social’ marketing campaign; inviting people to step out of their normal routine instead of playing it safe. Schweppes is bringing back socialising with a twist. With the aim of elevating the socialising experience, turning everlasting bubbles into everlasting experiences.
In 2023, Schweppes has also been on a sustainability journey with the launch of the new 8 x 150ml mini can pack in a cardboard Keel Clip. This is an innovative and minimalistic paperboard packaging solution which is removing plastic shrink wrap from the Schweppes mini can range. The move is in line with the Coca Cola system’s wider commitment to reduce the use of plastic by using solutions that are more sustainable in terms of recyclability. The overall project across the Coca-Cola portfolio is estimated to save 2,000 tonnes of plastic and 3,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Following the rise in the popularity of consumers drinking less but better quality liquids, and the long-term trend of lighter, lower calorie and lower sugar drinks, means there has been a need for brands to broaden their product offering to include ‘healthier choices’ that strengthen consumer’s overall drinking experience in terms of taste, serve and enjoyment.
At the forefront of this evolving category and lighter drinking movement is London Essence, a premium drinks brand producing elegantly distilled mixers designed to accentuate the finest spirits. Each expression is delicately light at under 20kcal per 100ml, low in sugar at under 4g per 100ml and is crafted without the use of artificial sweeteners, thanks to its unique use of distilled essences.
“Following the long-term trend towards sugar reduction across the world, and being consumers of premium drinks ourselves, we found that many “premium” options focused on natural credentials but were also very high in sugar. It’s important to deliver light, natural options that also have great taste to ensure overall enjoyment,” says Brian Greer, marketing manager at Britvic Ireland.
Through its relationship with the trade experts and conversations with world leading bartenders, London Essence also recognised that high sugar mixers often overpowered the characteristics of the spirit partner, instead of enhancing them.
With that in mind, the brand took inspiration from its heritage in creating distilled essences which capture the flavour of the finest ingredients to deliver aromatic signature notes and great taste, with only a dusting of sugar.
“Thanks to the growing mixer market and continual product innovation, curious consumers now have plenty of options in terms of flavour and pairing,” adds Greer. “However, it is important to offer quality, taste, and versatility first and foremost. A sign of a sophisticated mixer is when they can be enjoyed in any form – with or without a spirit – to satisfy all drinking occasions and preferences. Therefore, not only do we have a fantastic range of tonics and gingers, but also a delicious selection of crafted sodas, which includes our Pink Grapefruit brand.”
The London Essence range is designed to bring out the best in gins, vodkas and dark spirits through mixer varieties including Original Indian Tonic Water, Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic, Blood Orange & Elderflower Tonic, Pomelo and Pink Peppercorn Tonic Water and Pink Grapefruit Soda in 6 x 150ml can packs as well as its iconic 500ml glass range that includes the Original Indian Tonic Water, Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic, Blood Orange & Elderflower Tonic, a delicate Ginger Ale and White Peach & Jasmine Soda.
Mix with the best
In 2013, Fever-Tree was introduced to the Irish market via Richmond Marketing and has since become Ireland’s number one premium mixer brand. Throughout the past 10 years, we’ve seen a market wide shift towards premiumisation with Fever-Tree pioneering the premium mixer category, bringing choice, quality and excitement back into the previously overlooked space.
Since launching in Ireland, Fever-Tree has continued to diversify its portfolio to meet the ever-evolving needs of the Irish consumer. For the brand, it’s all about putting quality back into both the on-trade and at home occasion with one simple premise: If ¾ of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best.
While Fever-Tree is best known for its high-quality tonic waters, the brand has continued to diversify its portfolio in response to increased consumer demand for alternative mixers; including ginger ale +6%, soda water +11%, and ginger beer +120% (Source: YTD Collated ROI EPOS Data to week 28, vs 2022).
Fever-Tree now offers one of the market’s most expansive mixer ranges encompassing Flavoured Tonics, Ginger Ale, Ginger Beer, Soda Water, Mexican Lime Soda Water and most recently, Pink Grapefruit Soda, which is made using naturally sourced ingredients to achieve the perfectly balanced, bitter-yet-sweet flavour with fresh and floral notes.
With a range of different mixers to choose from, there truly is something for everyone. From old school classics to modern twists, Fever-Tree’s award-winning range of mixers will enhance the taste of any long drink or cocktail.
For more information, visit www.fever-tree.com.