Britvic_The London Essence_Mixers

Britvic is instead focusing on promoting its brands as mixers or alternatives to alcohol

Britvic has no immediate plans to extend one of its own or PepsiCo-licensed brands into alcohol, according to its UK MD Paul Graham.

Speaking at the launch of the Britvic Soft Drinks Review yesterday (23 May), Graham said the supplier was not preparing to rival competitors such as Fever-Tree and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners by releasing an alcoholic ready-to-drink (ARTD) proposition

“It’s not something we’re actively exploring in terms of having a brand with alcohol,” Graham said. “It’s an interesting space, but if you look at our strength in hospitality we have been mixing our brands with alcohol for years, and part of the reason we are so strong in terms of licensed outlets is because of that.”

The category blurring between adult soft drinks, soft drinks, ready-to-drink cocktails and mocktails was “a really interesting dynamic”, Graham admitted. He said, however, that Britvic was instead focusing on working with retailers to develop the reputation of its brands as mixers, adult soft drinks and as an alternative to boozier tipples.

He also pointed to moderation trends – citing data from the report that showed 46% of drinkers were looking to consume less alcohol. This, he said, gave “soft drinks their opportunity to shine across channels”.

In the US, PepsiCo has licensing agreements with alcoholic drinks producers to manufacture boozy versions of its Mountain Dew and Lipton Iced Tea brands.

Asked if Britvic would consider NPD in the ARTD category if PepsiCo decided it wanted extend one of its own brands into booze in the UK, Graham remained tight-lipped.

“They are our strategic partners and we have continual conversations with them around portfolio,” he said.

Elsewhere, Graham cautioned against concluding that the remarkable performance of Prime in 2023 meant sports drinks were back in vogue.

“There’s a reason why sports was the highest-growing category [in soft drinks] in 2023, and that reason was Prime,” he said. “It’s been a phenomenon in terms of its impact in the market, but equally looking at the short term in 2024 its going down at the same speed it went up.

“I certainly wouldn’t read too much into it and say the whole market and consumer has changed and is now drinking sports drinks,” he continued. “I think it just happened to be that Prime was categorised as a sports drink.”

Instead, the lesson for soft drinks suppliers from Prime was that celebrities and influencers had a “phenomenal” ability to “communicate and interact with their cohort or their tribe”, Graham said. He added established brands needed to “break with a traditional marketing approach” to respond to the threat posed by new challenger brands.

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