There is only a finite amount of chiller space to go round, and every manufacturer wants it all. They all say that they are pushing hard for chiller space in all channels.
They also agree impulse is a major market driver, particularly in c-stores where chillers are close to the front door, which will increase in importance as the UK climate gets hotter. "Impulse is a growing channel because consumers want to buy soft drinks on the go due to busy lifestyles," says Kieran Harmsworth, director of marketing at CCE.
Drinks companies show retailers how the maximum amount of product can be squeezed into chillers and container manufacturers continue to discuss ways for cans and bottles to be tessellated (ie square) so more can be crammed in.
For John Revess, marketing director for Rexam Beverage Can Europe and Asia, those packages are the key issue. "The direction here is clear: there will be more differentiated packaging that better meets the needs of distinct brands and enhances the moment of consumption for their loyal consumers. Retailers need to embrace this trend as commoditisation destroys value."
He adds that cans have advantages for retailers, being logistically space and weight-efficient as well as providing a long shelf life. "Nevertheless, I am confident it is possible to both maintain an efficient supply chain and continue the current trend towards increased packaging innovation."
Drinks companies want retailers to put their products in at least two places in store and they continue to look to cross-selling. Each manufacturer is vying to be seen as having the ideal summer product that should be placed alongside summer goods as well as in the drinks aisle. Indeed, that aisle is not always the best place to be.
"Footfall past the adult soft drinks fixture is relatively low," says Mike Coppard, MD of Shloer. "It is predominately visited by consumers who know what they want and actively seek out the products.
"For Shloer, gondola ends are the main opportunity to drive passing sales in the major multiples. However in other retail outlets, such as Superdrug, Shloer 250ml cans will be available on a meal deal promotion with sandwiches and this is something we are keen to replicate in other retail outlets." A joint effort to make the drinks aisle exciting is needed for all parties to maximise sales, says Vimto brand manager Claire Nield. "Manufacturers should work closely with retailers to communicate the importance of creating a soft drinks aisle that produces maximum impact. Creating the best on-shelf display will attract shoppers and in turn retailers will see a positive return at the tills. Manufacturers should ensure they provide exciting promotions, NPD and PoS."
So what is the retail perspective? "Mineral water drinks are massive and we're seeing a huge move towards fruit-flavoured water and energy drinks of all kinds, while smoothies are growing at the expense of standard carbonates," says Mark Richardson, owner of a Budgens in Newent, Gloucestershire.
"Bottle sizes are changing too. For instance, people are drinking much more water now than they were just three years ago and are routinely buying 750ml sports cap bottles, which you never used to see."
He agrees there is a massive move out of the ambient fixture and into chilled. "We have separate chillers for water and for carbonates and we put fruit juice and smoothies into the lunchbox feature.
"Women tend to shop the lunchbox, and they see smoothies as a good way of taking in 5-a-day, while men are the main drinkers of carbonates. We've cut down on canned drinks, moving more into 500ml PET because of demand and because they are easier to carry around." n