Restaurants to Promote Their Soft Drink-​Inclusive Mixed Drinks

BY Rachel Cagle
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"Given the growing health and wellness movement among U.S. consumers, conventional wisdom would suggest that soft drinks would suffer. But in reality, the opposite is happening, particularly in the alcoholic beverage space, according to Nielsen."

"At U.S. retail, non-​alcoholic beverages are worth $7 billion more than just four years ago, and $3.2 billion more in the last year alone."

"Whether at home or at restaurants and bars, soft drinks are performing well — 55% of U.S. consumers enjoy soft drinks when eating and drinking out, and U.S. retail sales experienced 2.9% growth in the past year."

"And as soft drink manufacturers and brands continue to evolve meet healthier lifestyles (with reduced-​sugar, healthier and premium options), the opportunity to effectively and strategically engage both the regular and occasional abstainers will continue to grow."

"But it’s not just the abstainers who are driving soft drinks forward; spirit drinkers are playing a big part too. Spirits are performing better than beer or wine, posting 5.7% sales growth at U.S. retail in the last year. They’re also the biggest category in several key channels in the on-​premise alcoholic beverage space."

"Different spirits demand different mixers, and spirit drinkers are willing to explore mixer variations depending on the spirit on offer, ranging from soda to fruit juice. In the U.S. on-​premise market, vodka and whiskey are the biggest revenue drivers for spirits, as 20% of survey consumers drink vodka and 17% drink whiskey. Club soda and cola are among the favorites for mixer pairings."

"In the off-​premise realm, some non-​alcoholic mixers are performing well at retail; cola sales are up 2.2%, club soda sales are up 7.1%, but beverages like orange juice (down 6.3%) and cranberry juice (down 5.8%) have some ground to make up."

"Regardless of the base liquor, mixed drink consumers have very specific flavor preferences. Berry (54%) and fruity/​sweet (50%) are top consumer flavor preferences for the cocktails they drink. At retail, assorted flavor soft drinks have posted an impressive 18.9% sales growth rate over the past year — followed by an increased affinity for ginger (sales of ginger beer are up 7.7%, and ginger ale sales are up 5.9%). The time is ripe for spirits and beverage manufacturers to increasingly capitalize on ready-​to-​drink cocktails that align with mixer and flavor preferences."

"Soft drinks sit at the crux between health-​conscious abstaining and premium mixing. The onus is on U.S. retailers, suppliers and manufacturers to maximize a sizable revenue opportunity, both this month and throughout the year."

According to AudienceSCAN, many Soft Drink Consumers drink alcoholic beverages at least once per week, including cocktails.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. In addition, AdMall contains industry profiles on quick-​service, fast-​casual and full-​service restaurants, as well as lead lists at the local level. Media companies, sales reps and agencies can access this data with a subscription to AdMall from SalesFuel.