The soft sell: give customers what they crave this Christmas

Christmas lights are starting to illuminate the country, John Lewis has revealed its seasonal tear jerker and, before you know it, the on-trade will welcome an influx of festive revellers.

This means it’s time to perfect your drinks offer ahead of the rush. Here at Vimto Out of Home we’ve got decades of experience at selling soft drinks, so here’s four festive tips to help you maximise your seasonal sales.

Blog by James Nichols, Commercial Controller.

1. In the mix

At this time of year you can be confident cocktails and spirits with mixers are going to be high on many party goers’ agenda. To put a figure on it, they were worth £664m in the first quarter of 2022 (CGA) – up eight per cent on 2020 figures.

Soft drinks are very profitable for operators – offering a higher margin per litre than beer, for example, and to give them the oomph they deserve, you need to have the right range of soft drinks on offer. Variants such as cola and ginger beer, which work well as both mixers and drinks in their own right, make a lot of sense. As well as being the only UK supplier to offer both Pepsi and Coca-Cola, Vimto Out of Home is now the exclusive post mix distributor of Old Jamaica Ginger Beer – the UK’s best-selling ginger beer.

TIP: Ginger beer is perfect in the winter, not just on its own as a soft drink but to mix with rum to make a Dark & Stormy, or with vodka in a Moscow Mule.

2. Alcohol-free fun

It’s not just the cocktail crew who will be partying this Christmas. According to a recent report on the no and low alcohol market from hospitality insight firm KAM, one in three pub visits are now alcohol free.

That’s a significant proportion of customers who are in the market for soft drinks – and we haven’t even counted the designated drivers or those coming out for family occasions, with over 40% of people identifying a family meal with young children as a top alcohol-free occasion. The report showed visits for lunch (32%) and work meetings (31%) also rank highly for visits to pubs and restaurants where people don’t drink alcohol. All of which underlines how important it is to have a wide range of soft drinks choices available this Christmas and beyond.

TIP: As people look to make healthier choices, make sure lower sugar and lower calorie drinks are also part of the overall soft drinks offer.

3. Speedy service

At key trading times such as December, having an array of post mix options on the gun enables staff to serve customers more quickly and reduce waiting times – something which ultimately creates better customer experiences and puts more money in the till.

Post mix also means more fridge space for more premium options, these can catch the eye and encourage customers to trade up at a time of year when they are most disposed to treat themselves. For example, one bag in box is the equivalent of 180 cans – quite the space saving! – and it’s better for the planet, with bag in box products producing 99.6% less waste than glass bottles.

TIP: Our post mix guns offer up to eight brands per gun, double the average, which means you can ensure there’s a post mix option for everyone, saving space – and the planet.

4. Customer marketing

Having a top range of soft drinks in place is one thing but just as important is letting everyone know about it – otherwise you risk losing sales to tap water. KAM research shows that a quarter of consumers would order tap water at a pub or bar when they do not want an alcoholic drink, which adds up to a whopping £800m in lost revenue for the sector every year.

Eye-catching PoS in venue, making brands visible and highlighting soft drink options on menus and drinks lists are all elements to ensure soft drink sales soar – along with social media, of course. By creating some eye-catching ‘instagrammable’ drinks you can even get your customers to do the hard work for you as they create posts and share your beautiful drinks themselves.

TIP: Think about how you can make soft drinks just as visible on the bar as your beer range is, in order to prompt customers into making a purchase rather than defaulting to tap water.

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