The enduring appeal of soft drinks in the On Premise

When it comes to consumption in the On Premise, much of the conversation surrounds the mega categories of Beer, Spirits and Wine – but that would be ignoring a significant player: Soft drinks.

CGA by NielsenIQ’s latest research uses data from their BeverageTrak solution to delve into the nuances of this category.


CGA’s BeverageTrak service combines powerful datasets to provide an ultra-granular view of how drinks categories are being ordered and distributed across the USA, offering an unprecedented view of the market with unparalleled transparency.


The latest data reveals that 43% of US consumers drink Soft drinks when in the On Premise (topped only by ‘All spirits’ and Beer), and with the average US outlet making $21,909 from the sales of all soft drinks in the last 12 weeks (to early July 2022), it’s never been more important to understand the trends driving this category’s success.


In the last 12 weeks, checks that included non-alcoholic beverages sat at $53 for the average outlet. Within this category, the soft drinks that were associated with the highest check amounts were Lemonades, Juices, and Soda. Unsurprisingly, Fine Dining, Premium Bars and Polished Casual venues showed the highest check values with these soft drinks.


When examining check count, the latest 12-week period highlights that two of the top three Soft Drink brands sit within the Cola subcategory. The average outlet’s most popular Cola brand appeared on checks more than twice as often as its closest competitor, demonstrating the dominance of certain brands within this subcategory.


Cola is also a top performer within the ‘Polished Casual’ restaurant channel and appears on the highest-value checks for Premium Bars and Fine Dining. Across sales of soft drinks in Total US, Cola ranked third for both eating and drinks-led venues, close behind its typical rivals of Iced Tea and Soda.


Energy drinks have also demonstrated significant engagement with consumers in drinks-led venues, with Sports Bars mainly driving this performance. The average price for an Energy drink in Sports Bars is also higher than any other subchannel at $7 per unit, compared to $6 for the rest of the drinking segment. This demonstrates a significant opportunity for investment in Energy drink programming around sports viewing.


When it comes to serve, most Energy drink category drinkers choose to consume this style on its own (56.6%), however nearly a third (32.9%) would also consume them in a cocktail format as well – highlighting that suppliers could potentially explore this as an avenue for growth in the On Premise.


In terms of visitation to the On Premise, the average Energy drink category drinker over-indexes for a number of venues, including Casinos (+11pp), Experiential bars (+15pp), Stadiums (+12pp), and Outdoor Festivals (+14pp) – highlighting that this segment is more active in a variety of channels compared to the average US consumer. Given that these venues also tend to lend themselves to more high-tempo occasions, it demonstrates the importance of understanding how both occasion and channel impacts the consumer decision making process for   drinks categories and brands. This topic will be explored in further detail in CGA’s upcoming Channel Strategy report, which examines the opportunities for drink suppliers across 11 specific channels – including Casual Dining restaurants, Sports Bars, Experiential Bars, Arenas/Sports stadiums and more.



Matt Crompton, regional director – North America, said: “There’s dramatic differences within the Soft drinks category, especially when it comes to how consumers make purchase decisions – with occasion and channel playing a significant role in that path to purchase. Our new Channel Strategy report will delve into this topic, to enrich beverage suppliers with value insights that will enable development and implementation of impactful marketing and content strategies that are channel-specific and maximize the penetration of their brands.”


To learn more about CGA by NielsenIQ’s research across drinks categories in the On Premise, and how you can understand where the opportunities lie for your drinks brands, get in touch with Matt Crompton at

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