Adult soft drinks is the fastest growing segment of the soft drinks market, but it is also an area full of missed opportunities, according to Coca-Cola Enterprises' marketing director Ian Deste. Deste says: "Instore positioning has been confused between products that happen to be consumed by adults and alcohol replacements for occasions such as dinner parties. "But consumers don't buy like that ­ they look for carbonates, still drinks and juices. Suppliers and retailers need to understand what they want to achieve through the alcohol replacement division, because brands are being restricted." According to Deste, CCE intends to burst out of this straitjacket by further targeting the impulse sector with its two adult brands Oasis and Appletiser. Oasis was repackaged in 500ml PET resealable bottles last year to enhance convenience and Deste says this led to value growth of 36% year-on-year [ACNielsen, Feb 2002]. The brand netted £27.4m in sales, thanks partly to £2.5m spent on national TV advertising and sampling. Deste is also placing his faith in repositioning Oasis in the juice drink category, emphasising its high juice content, and hopes this will help reverse the 9% decline in CCE's value share of the adult soft drinks market in the 52 weeks to February 23 2002. To encourage more impulse purchase Appletiser is being launched in six packs of 330ml cans this month. while Oasis' distribution to independents, convenience stores and forecourts is being stepped up. CCE's advertising for Appletiser will underline its credentials as a juice drink. "We've got a long way to go in communicating that Appletiser is 100% pure apple juice," says Deste. Britvic, maker of Robinsons cordial and ready-to-drink ranges, is also seeking more gains from the impulse sector with Robinsons' low calorie Fruit Break. Britvic added to its soft drinks portfolio in 2000 when it acquired Orchid Drinks whose Amé and Aqua Libra brands are Waitrose's two bestselling adult soft drinks. However Tapestry, Orchid's upmarket cordial was trialled in Waitrose last year and dropped because, according to Britvic, it clashed with its Robinsons brand. Amé's 750ml bottles have been relabelled in an oriental style while Aqua Libra has been redesigned to emphasise its natural ingredients and fruity nature. Britvic has increased its emphasis on adult juice drinks with the launch of J2O in multiples in March. The still fruit drink had already seen strong growth in the on-trade since its launch in 1998. Brand controller Adrian Troy says: "Britvic will replicate J2O's pub success in the home as a great drink with meals or for enjoying with friends." CCE and Britvic's emphasis on juice content in their adult soft drink ranges is echoed in Rubicon's exotic fruit drinks. The company, which sponsored the blockbuster Brit-Asian movie Bend it Like Beckham, plans a high visibility campaign this summer, including outdoor and indoor sampling and cinema and TV ads this month. Rubicon's exotic juice drink range and Sun Exotic range are sold in carbonated form in 330ml one-shot cans and in still form in 1 litre and 288ml cartons and 300ml glass bottles in multiples and select independents. Comparative newcomer Frujet Beverages was established six years ago and claims annual sales of £5m and 40% year-on-year growth for its Cwella brand, available in six flavours in a 475ml plastic bottle. Frujet md Tony Revill-Johnson says taste rather than positioning is by far the most important factor in sales: "Adult soft drinks is an industry definition. The consumer couldn't care less what we call it. Taste is the key." Cwella is distributed to wholesalers and national c-store operators such as Alldays and Spar. James White Drinks has two ranges of juices ­ Classic and Organics ­ which it targets at health-conscious adults. Its freshly pressed organic juice drinks are sold in 750ml and 250ml glass bottles. They are sold in specialist food stores, select independents and multiples. An organic apple and crushed ginger variety has been launched this year. Belvoir Fruit Farms is successfully straddling the demand for organic and juice-based adults soft drinks. The company claims 60% sales growth in the last financial year. Sales director William Wells says: "Sales of adult soft drinks have grown by roughly 120% over the past four years and we've outstripped that." Belvoir recently launched organic versions of its premium fruit cordial range in leading multiples and independents. But it's the company's organic pressés that have really taken off, according to Wells. The 750ml bottles come in four varieties and Waitrose and Tesco list its organic elderflower pressé. The company is planning to highlight the fresh juice content of its organic and original cordial ranges with new pack designs and has just launched two varieties of spritzers in Waitrose and Safeway. Bottle Green Drinks, which claims a turnover of £5m, is also established in pressés and in premium cordials and its ranges are sold in Safeway, Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitrose. It launched spritzers last year while its elderflower and cranberry versions of cordials and pressés were also listed by Asda in March. Thorncroft launched Kombucha and Detox ­ two well-being cordial lines in 750ml bottles ­ at Food & Drink Expo in Birmingham in March. In addition, the company produces a range of traditional cordials in five flavours packaged in 750ml glass bottles. Its elderflower, ginger and nettle cordials are available in 200ml, with a 500ml PET elderflower variant called Mist in ready-to-drink form for the impulse sector. The drinks are sold in Sainsbury, select Co-op stores, Booths and Waitrose. Merrydown's Shloer continues to sell well in multiples. Elderflower was added to the five flavours in the range last year and is being rolled out to Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda. Available in one litre and 275ml screw-cap glass bottles, the brand had a 38% volume growth and 35% value growth in the last financial year [ACNielsen MAT, March 2002]. Divisional director Mike Coppard adds: "Shloer has an annual retail value of £12.9m and that doesn't include sales in Northern Ireland, where it is particularly strong. One fifth of our volume sales are made over there." Coppard says the brand has been undergoing a transformation: "It was previously associated with the Christmas period, so our objective has been to broaden usage, especially over the summer period." To this end, Merrydown launched a massive national sales campaign running from June-August 2001, targeting country shows and key retailers, supported by PR and TV ads. This flurry of activity was also aimed at extending the age range of its upmarket, female consumers, according to Coppard. Merrydown is launching a similar campaign this year, with ads linked to instore and outdoor sampling. Coppard says the company intends to follow this by revamping its packaging next year. The message to adult soft drinks producers for 2002 is to keep a clear idea of where products should be positioned and to penetrate the impulse sector. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}