Mixing or Moderating: Soft Drinks opportunities

The latest On Premise Measurement (OPM) data from CGA by NIQ reveals how soft drinks are benefitting from recent consumer habits in moderating consumption, and reveals how spirits can share the spotlight.
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Conscious consumption 

In the Republic of Ireland, across the three months to February 2024, On Premise soft drinks sales accounted for 6.8% of total wet sales. The increased share in sales (+0.7pp vs YA) is driven by the category’s value growth compared to a year ago – at +10.1% softs has seen the largest growth of all drinks categories.  


December 2023 was a notable month for softs gaining share of total wet, when Christmas in-outlet activations and enticing city-centre pop-ups drove the success of the category. Such activities captivated consumers, while also amplifying brand relevance across social media platforms. Moreover, targeted promotions for designated drivers over the festive season positively impacted brand sentiment and effectively countered the traction of No/Low alcoholic offerings. 


These trajectories continued into the New Year. The market saw +1.4pp (percentage points) increase in soft drinks consumption, versus a -1.3pp drop in LAD’s share of value sales, driven by increased consumer focus on healthier life choices, Dry January, and heightened post-festive cost-of-living concerns. 


Softs in the Mix 

Within soft drinks, Cola / Diet Cola emerged as a dominant force in the category, increasing its share on the quarter by +1.4pp. The sub-category also reflects spirits trends. Vodka saw a notable +2.3pp increase in share, with Vodka Cola remaining the most popular spirit and mixer combination amongst a quarter (24%) of consumers.  


With 57% of consumers are opting for Spirit Mixer serves, these dynamics are vital for brands operating within both the soft drinks and spirits categories. 


The findings underline the fundamental role of the On Premise for soft drinks brands, and the strategic advantage of engaging consumers who are either moderating or mixing. Understanding these trends is crucial for grasping, reacting to, and anticipating broader consumer trends. 


Ultimately, brands activating in key outlets are achieving greater visibility, resulting in a cascading effect on influencing consumer choices in off-trade scenarios besides in bars, pubs, and restaurants. 


Sian Brennan, client director – Ireland said: “Current consumer dynamics around the soft drinks category – and the impact to the spirits category – are intricate and highly compelling. Understanding them equips suppliers and operators to thrive in a highly competitive, sometimes unpredictable, and increasingly nuanced marketplace. The importance can’t be understated for designing and implementing data-driven strategies to resonate with consumer preferences and promote overall wet sales growth.” 


CGA by NIQ offers a trended view across categories, with regular consumer surveys to provide the vital insight into the drivers of behaviours and opportunities. Discover in-depth intelligence across the Irish On Premise, with expert analysis by channel, category, sub-category, and much more, contact Sian Brennan here.  


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