Unwrap huge low and no alcohol growth this Christmas

One in three UK adults now rarely or never drink alcohol, but that doesn’t mean licensed sales need to dry up. Savvy operators are attracting new crowds with elevated soft drinks, which presents a £170m opportunity for foodservice and licensed outlets. So how can that growth be unwrapped this Christmas?

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Clinking ice cubes, bursting bubbles, elegant garnishes and well-considered glassware misted with condensation. All raise anticipation of the kind of cooling refreshment and complex flavours people will pay more for. Smart licensed operators and their suppliers have long shown flare for such theatre.

At Christmas, it’s time to ramp those theatrics up. As we explored in the 2023 Britvic Soft Drinks Review,[1] people are going out to eat and drink less often in response to the rising cost of living. They’re also demanding more from venues when they do venture out. That means the drinks you serve should smash guests’ expectations every time.  

Your drinks need pizazz, whether they contain alcohol or not. Chances are you’ll be serving more of the latter than ever before this Christmas. Consumption of low and no alcohol drinks is expected to rise by a third by 2026[2] and more people are moderating alcohol or cutting it out altogether. But they still want to be wowed. Here’s how to do that with low and no alcohol drinks over the coming festivities…

Elevated soft drinks: a £170m opportunity

Let’s start with the basics. There are around 500m occasions every year when pubs, restaurants and other licensed venues serve tap water to guests. By encouraging drinkers to switch to soft drinks on just 10% of those occasions would unlock £123m in incremental sales and trading them up to premium soft drinks could drive £170m growth for the sector.

Serve fizzy drinks like Pepsi MAX®, 7UP and Tango in chilled glasses (never use glassware still warm from washing) with ice and a slice to tempt people away from tap water. To elevate your offerings, try enhancing Pepsi MAX® with Mathieu Teisseire flavour syrups or adding London Essence Company Crafted Sodas, available in flavours such as Roasted Pineapple and Pink Grapefruit, to your menus. 

Festive flavours encourage trial and build excitement

Opportunities to elevate low and no alcohol drinks multiply at this time of the year. Experiment with flavours and garnishes using cherry, dried fruit, cranberry, ginger, mixed spice and peppermint to give your offerings a festive feel and serve in branded glassware with ice. Limited-edition festive flavours can also encourage trial, build excitement and ensure guests who are not drinking alcohol feel involved.

Turn heads with drop dead gorgeous cocktails

Serving cocktails – alcoholic or non-alcoholic – can really dial things up. Last year, sales of cocktails surged by 132% to £686m in hospitality,[3] driven partly by the 88% of people who say they expect the venues they visit to give them experiences they cannot replicate at home.[4] Note also that 37% of cocktail drinkers say they always or nearly always post pictures of their drinks on social media.

That means the drinks you serve need to look great, as well as taste great. But rustling up cocktails takes time, so Britvic has developed a trio of Cocktail Mixers – Mojito, Piña Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri – to allow staff to serve the perfect cocktails every time by sampling popping the cap, pouring and garnishing. Mixing with spirits is optional!

Woo (woo) your guests with J2O mixers

These aren’t the only options for operators looking to serve up compelling cocktails without the faff. The exciting flavour combinations of the J2O range provides a perfect base for cocktails and mocktails, such as the J2O Winter Woo Woo, a seasonal twist on the traditional Woo Woo (vodka, cranberry, lime and peach liqueur) using spiced rum (optional), peach liqueur and J2O Apple & Raspberry.

The 10-strong J20 range – which includes Spritz in Apple and Elderflower and Pear & Raspberry flavours, as well as Orange & Mango and Apple & Raspberry Fruit Blends – gives plenty of opportunity for further festive flavour combinations.

Communication and visibility are key!

Of course, all this could be for nothing if your guests aren’t made aware of what’s on offer. Ensuring staff are properly trained and actively offer people chances to upgrade their drinks is crucial, as is clearly signposting what’s on offer behind the bar. Make things easier for parents by setting kids drinks apart and put together specific menus for younger guests.

Developing attractive menus for your low and no alcohol and premium soft drinks can deliver big rewards. Research shows that foodservice operators can elevate soft drinks spend by an average of 17%, simply by providing a drinks menu. Ensuring they’re attractive and easy to read is also important, given that most guests spend less than two minutes looking at menus.

For more tips and guidance on how to make the most of the low and no alcohol opportunity this Christmas, download the 2023 Britvic Soft Drinks Review here.

[1] All stats cited in this post are from the 2023 Britvic Soft Drinks Review unless otherwise stated

[2] IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, 2023

[3] CGA by Nielsen IQ, Mixed Drinks Report ,Q3 2022

[4] KAM - Competitive Socialising - Feb 22.pdf P5

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