Time to mix things up!
With Nielsen sales data showing the ‘mixers’ category has grown 18% year-on-year across the island of Ireland, to reach a value of €15.7 million, getting the right brands on your shelves could prove just the tonic to bolster sales, writes Gillian Hamill
11 September 2017
It’s fair to say the spirits sector has gone through something of a renaissance in recent times. This has been influenced by the explosion of interest in Irish gin that has hit the country. As John Wilson wrote in The Irish Times in June, “the number of Irish gins continues to multiply. The latest count is 22, but that may well have increased by the time you read this article.”
No doubt about it, gin has become hugely fashionable. This has an obvious knock-on effect on mixers. Indeed, as Oisin Davis, founder of the Gin & Tonic Fest said: “90% of gin sales are linked to gin & tonic”. From talking to National Off-Licence Association members here at ShelfLife for our store profile features, it is clear that not only has the choice of gins grown exponentially, but the selection of mixers to match them has too. Indeed, discerning customers are spending their time and money choosing artisan, premium gins with tempting blends of botanicals such as coriander and juniper, so it only makes sense that they would want to amplify that experience with the right mixer to match their tipple. Interestingly, the growth in gin was forged largely by a need for cash flow among distilleries. Legally speaking, whiskey must be aged for a minimum of three years. By comparison, gin only takes a few hours to distil. Most distilleries actually intend to continuing producing gin in the future though, following the high level of sales achieved.
Whiskey in the jar!
Whiskey is another flourishing spirit segment moreover. Millions have been invested in a number of exciting new Irish whiskies and distilleries, one of the most recent of which is Slane Irish Whiskey – the fulfilment of a long-held dream for Lord Henry Mountcharles and his family of Slane Castle, who are perhaps best known for hosting rock royalty at their legendary outdoor concerts.
According to the Irish Spirits Association (ISA), the spirts sector on the island of Ireland supports the estimated employment of over 15,000 people in manufacturing, distribution, hospitality and retailing, as well as many farming families through the purchase of raw materials. The association points out that Irish whiskey, for example, is experiencing exceptional growth around the world with demand having increased by 11.2% in 2016. This cements its position as the world’s fastest growing spirit according to figures recently published by International Wine and Spirits Research.
Meanwhile, fans of other spirits such as vodka and rum do not want to miss out on pairing their drinks with tasty mixers either, so read on to find out more about some of the current best-performing ranges, most definitely worthy of consideration for shelf space in your store.
Primed for growth
With the ‘mixers’ category having grown 18% year-on-year across the island of Ireland, and now worth €15.7 million*, the classic mixers range Schweppes is primed for further growth with a number of exciting brand and pack developments planned.
As the brand leader, delivering 54% of the category value*, the iconic ‘Schweppes’ name comes from its founder, Jacob Schweppe, who was the first person to discover how carbonated water could be stored in bottles. The first Schweppes Lemonade was created in 1835 and refreshes consumers to this day, with an expanding range including Soda Water, Indian Tonic Water, Slimline Tonic, Bitter Lemon and Ginger Ale.
The legendary Schweppes tonic remains the signature taste of the brand with its delicate balance of bitterness, acidity and citric sweetness. The tonic only uses natural flavourings and contains the highest quality ingredients including quinine from cinchona bark.
2017 is a year of innovation for the brand, with the launch of a four-pack 200ml glass range in Schweppes Classic Tonic for the grocery channel.
The classic mixer will further make an impact in-store with the launch of a new look planned for October. The new modern pack design will be seen across all grocery SKUs to include the 1 litre pack, the 12 x 150ml mini-can multipack and the new four-pack glass.
Schweppes Classic Tonic will be further brought to life with an added value promotion which sees the popular ‘Balloon Glasses’ available to consumers with the purchase of the four-pack.
This is just the start of the investment in the brand, with an integrated marketing plan also underway. For the first time in many years, the brand is benefitting from above the line investment to include TV, out-of-home, digital and social media marketing.
Eimhear Daly, brand manager, Coca-Cola Ireland explains: “This is just the start of an exciting new chapter for Schweppes that continues to have an extremely loyal consumer base. However, Schweppes drinkers are continuing to look for new flavours and innovations from their favourite brand. There are further plans in place for the coming months that will see unique flavour extensions of the core range and the development of a more premium mixer offering appealing to current and new Schweppes drinkers. This will be supported by a significant marketing campaign to promote the new products.”
Donna Chesters, channel manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland added: “With the continued growth in the mixers category and the rise of premium spirits, Schweppes is well placed to capture this incremental revenue for our retail partners. We look forward to sharing more news with customers soon.”
Expert mixologist Orlando Pandalache has also been engaged with the brand to build credibility and knowledge across the on-trade in mixability and spirit pairing. Creative sampling and activation has also been evident at key festivals and high footfall events, with the presence of a Schweppes bar including a ‘Garnish Wall’ to appeal to consumers seeking a bespoke mixing occasion.
For more information, contact your local Coca-Cola HBC representative or visit ie.Coca-ColaHellenic.com | Coca-Cola.ie.
*(Source: Nielson Value Sales Total NARTD, IOI May 2017)
Hand-crafted for superior taste
Fentimans has been making the finest quality natural botanical drinks since 1905. The group’s award-winning artisanal beverages are hand-crafted, using the finest natural ingredients from all around the world. To create a superior taste and wonderful mouth feel, unlike other producers of carbonated drinks, Fentimans makes its drinks using the time-honoured botanical brewing technique. This traditional process takes a full seven days to make a Fentimans beverage.
According to the brand, it is this traditional botanical brewing process that produces the depth of flavour, mouth feel and rich texture which are the hallmark of Fentimans drinks today. This is the Fentimans way which has stood the test of time – with the knowledge and expertise being passed from generation to generation of the Fentiman family. The result is a superior tasting natural range of beverages which can be enjoyed on their own or as a mixer with a premium spirit.
The latest editions to the Fentimans range include Cherry Cola and Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger soft drinks, and Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water and Soda Water mixers.
Fentimans soft drinks are available in 275ml and 750ml bottles, whilst mixers are available in 125ml bottles and 200ml four-packs.
To order Fentimans, contact your local C&C Gleeson sales rep or Freephone 1800 303 742.
For more information, visit www.fentimans.com.
First cola specifically created as mixer
The Fever-Tree brand recently helped fulfil the dreams of spirits fans everywhere. New introduction, Fever-Tree Madagascan Cola is the first cola created specifically to be used as a mixer.
The brand new Madagascan Cola gives a taste unlike any other cola on the market, made with the highest quality natural ingredients from around the world. It comprises a rich blend of citrus and spice from around the world that complement the finest whiskeys, rums and bourbons. Madagascan Cola is made from kola nut extract from Nigeria which gives a bitter and earthy taste. Vanilla extract from Madagascar and Cassia from Indonesia provide the sweet, rich and warm necessities to balance the bitter kola nut.
According to Laura Hallinan, brand manager, Fever-Tree Ireland: “A premium rum demands a premium mixer, and that’s exactly what we have produced for dark spirits here. Madagascan Cola is the eleventh Fever-Tree mixer added to the Irish market and we’re delighted to have added this to our range. Mixing with Madagascan Cola means you are mixing with the best. We’re excited for Irish consumers to try this new taste experience.”
Fever-Tree mixers are highly carbonated and consist of small bubbles for a smooth, delicate texture that carries the flavour of the botanicals in each mixer and enhances the flavours of the spirits they are intended to be mixed with. With no artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours or preservatives, Madagascan Cola is the perfect mixer of choice for dark spirits.
Madagascan Cola is available now in both bars and retail outlets across Ireland. As the brand states: “If ¾ of your drink is mixer, make sure you mix the best with the best.”
Lifting Irish spirits since 1852
To celebrate the 165th year anniversary of Club Mixers, Club has unveiled a complete relaunch of its iconic range, which has been lifting Irish spirits and has been at the heart of Irish pub culture since 1852. As part of the relaunch, Club Mixers has introduced an award-winning new tonic recipe, iconic new non-returnable glass bottles available in 125ml and 200ml formats as well as 850ml PET, along with a new contemporary brand identity that will be supported through-the-line (TTL).
Club Mixers will be supported with a significant marketing campaign which will include experiential and sampling marketing, consumer PR, trade press, point of purchase communications and digital support. Across the summer, Club Mixers will be showcasing its award-wining recipe and bottle to consumers at several events. This move is the first in a series of investments in the pipeline as Club Mixers looks to reconnect with the consumer through the brand’s unique heritage, new look, improved liquids and support plan.
Exceptional taste experience
In March 2017, the new and improved Club Tonic recipe was awarded the esteemed ‘Three Golden Star Superior Taste Award’, as part of the International Taste and Quality Institute’s ‘Superior Taste Awards’. The International Taste & Quality Institute (ITQI) is the world’s leading organisation dedicated to testing and promoting superior food and drink products. Club Mixers was awarded an accolade of superior and exceptional taste as part of a blind taste test, adjudicated by a panel of 135 expert and unanimously recognised chefs and sommeliers.
“We are very excited about the Club Mixers’ brand relaunch as it was very important for us to keep such an iconic Irish brand contemporary and relevant to the modern consumer,” said Brian Greer, brand manager, Britvic Ireland. “Our focus has always been to deliver a unique and superior taste experience, which is why being internationally recognised as delivering an exceptional taste was such a proud moment for the brand and reaffirms the strength of our offering in such a competitive space.”
The Club Mixers portfolio offers a wide range of flavours, best enjoyed chilled over ice with a garnish of choice. Club Mixers are the perfect accompaniment to spirits, expertly designed to blend deliciously with gins, vodkas and whiskeys.
Our Way Forward
Louise Sullivan, public affairs and communications director, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland gives ShelfLife the low-down on what Coca-Cola’s new ‘Our Way Forward’ strategy entails
Q: Coca-Cola has recently launched a new report, Our Way Forward. Does this signal a new direction for the company?
Our recently launched report outlines Coca-Cola’s long-term business strategy across the globe and the specific actions we are taking in Ireland and Northern Ireland to give our customers and consumers the drinks that they want.
‘Our Way Forward’ recognises that today’s consumers want to manage their sugar intake, and not everyone drinks sparkling soft drinks. The Coca-Cola system is on a journey to evolve its portfolio, and is leading with a suite of plans, which are focused on the drinks that we sell (‘Inside the Bottle’) and how we sell them (‘Outside the Bottle’).
Q: A tax on sugar-sweetened drinks will be introduced in Ireland in 2018. To what extent is this strategy a response to this development? How will the strategy mitigate the impact of the tax?
A: Coca-Cola has been a leader in lights since the introduction of Diet Coke in 1982, which helped consumers to enjoy the great taste of Coca-Cola without the calories or sugar.
Since 2005, we have launched 28 new low or reduced sugar products and have a significant pipeline of new low or zero sugar products in development for some time. We are also actively encouraging more consumers to enjoy low sugar options, through our ‘Hero Zero’ strategy.
These plans have been in development for many years in response to evolving consumer needs and will position our business well to manage the impact of the sugar tax.
Q: Why do you feel it is important to concentrate on changes both ‘inside and outside the bottle’?
A: ‘Inside the Bottle’ focuses on our drinks; what is inside the bottles that we sell. This piece of the strategy highlights our plans to reduce sugar as well as to expand our portfolio offering to give consumers new and exciting taste experiences. Our actions include evolving existing recipes to respond to new taste preferences, bringing new sugar alternatives to the market, and innovating to offer different drinks with greater benefits, such as nutrition and hydration. Since 2010 we have reduced the sugar across our portfolio by 8% and will reduce it by a further 10% by 2020.
‘Outside the Bottle’ refers to our commitments to give consumers the information they need to make the choices that are right for them. A key focus of this is our ‘Hero Zero’ marketing strategy which makes the low and no-sugar versions of our drinks the easier choice by making them available where people want to buy them. With increased availability and marketing support for our ‘zero’ options, we plan to drive our lights mix so that by 2020, more than 55% of all cola that we sell will have no sugar.
Q: What else have you done to provide greater information to consumers?
A: We voluntarily put easy-to-understand nutrition information on the front of our packs so that consumers can make informed choices about the drinks that they buy, at a glance.
In Ireland, Coca-Cola was the first, and remains one of the very few, soft drink companies to add colour-coded labelling to its packs. This system was introduced across our cola variants in 2015, and has since been extended to all other products (excluding water).
In 2017 we went a step further with the introduction of serving guidelines on our multi-serve packs (500ml and greater).
We also diligently follow our global responsible marketing policy, and do not target advertising to children under the age of 12. This encompasses our belief in commercial-free classrooms for children and as such, we do not place vending machines in primary schools in Ireland.
Q: How will this strategy benefit retailers?
A: Our Way Forward is all about giving our customers the portfolio of drinks that is right for their business and the shoppers that they serve. Our strategy will make the right drinks available to people in the places where they want to buy them. Better serving shoppers through an evolved portfolio, led by consumer needs, is really a win-win for both us and our customers.