Beat the Heat & Boost Sales: Must-Have Summer Soft Drinks for Retailers

Summer soft drinks challengers – Must-Have Summer Soft Drinks for retailers chillers this year

British summer time is hard to predict. In 2022, temperatures reached highs of 40 degrees, but last year, patchy summer weather put a slight dampener on soft drinks sales.

Bottled water volume sales, for example, were down by 3.7% or 54.6 million litres. According to a report by The Grocer, five of the top 10 brands really felt the impact of last year’s unpredictable weather. These brands included Volvic, Evian, Highland Spring, Glacéau and Macb.

There’s no guarantee what 2024 will bring, posing a huge challenge for retailers. However, there are steps you can take to protect your sales.

Why you should buy flavoured water and isotonic sports drinks

Must-Have Summer Soft Drinks for Retailers - man drinking wowhydrate in london

Taste is regularly cited as the number-one driver for soft drink purchases. While regular bottled water is a must-stock, retailers can stand out with a range of flavoured water and isotonic sports drinks to enhance the experience.

Vidur Pandya, owner of Kislingbury Mini Market & Post Office in Northampton, says extending your range of flavoured options in summer will make the category more exciting.

“Flavoured water is always a huge hit in summer, but we also look at our isotonics drinks range,” he says.

While many retailers will focus on the big brands like Evian for flavoured water or Lucozade for isotonic drinks, consider searching for niche options.

This is where Epicurium can help.

In the flavoured water subcategory, retailers can source the likes of VitHit, Vitamin Well and Wow Hydrate – all from Epicurium. VitHit, for example, has three interesting flavours available: Dragonfruit & Yuzu Immunitea, Mandarin Detox and Mango & Passionfruit Perform.

It’s possible to make the water category more exciting – or at least intriguing to your shoppers – by stocking brands like Liquid Death.

The sparkling and still water range is stored in an energy-drink style can and its flavour portfolio includes Mango Chainsaw, Severed Lime, and regular sparkling and still water.

Wow Hydrate falls under the isotonic sports drink category – and has the added benefit of providing consumers with electrolytes.

Electrolytes are minerals that are essential in helping our bodies function. They help maintain fluid balance and help muscles and nerves work properly – something that will be impacted if you’re dehydrated. As noted by Bupa UK, the main electrolytes are sodium, potassium and chloride, as well as magnesium, calcium, phosphate and bicarbonates.

Other brands that offer electrolytes or even other benefits include ActiPH ACTi-Vit, available in Blackcurrant Apple Raspberry, Lemon Lime Orange and Mango Pineapple Passionfruit flavours.

The key to driving sales in this area is ensuring they are chilled – especially to help cater for shoppers on the go. Consider going one step further by ensuring some 2l formats are chilled for impromptu social occasions like picnics.

Energy plays a huge role

Must-Have Summer Soft Drinks for Retailers - C4 energy being pulled from a cold drinks fridge

It’s no secret the effect energy drinks are having on convenience store sales. This year alone has seen plenty of new products and investment, from Lucozade Blue to new Monster flavours, which are driving new shoppers to the category.

Retailers are anticipating this demand will continue into summer.

“Monster is flying out, but the key is focusing on new products,” says Amy Sohal, owner of Premier – Ken’s Convenience Store in Cheshire. “It’s the best way to attract Gen Z shoppers.”

The key players within the market are Red Bull, Monster and Lucozade. But alternative options can intrigue your customers and trade them up.  

Some customers are looking for added benefits outside caffeine, which maintains hydration – especially given the heat will cause dehydration quicker.

The likes of C4 Energy can help with this. The brand’s mission is to maximise human potential through high quality, science-backed ingredients that deliver both brand and body performance.

If you prefer to stock well-known brands, Grenade Energy could be your answer. Its range includes Berried Alive and Cherry Bomb.

When it comes to stocking drinks with more functional benefits, Nocco Energy provides additional BCAAs that aim to help stimulate the protein in muscle and reduce muscle breakdown.

Finding the right balance

Must-Have Summer Soft Drinks for Retailers - drinks fridges in a convenience store

No matter the weather, there is potential for high sales in summer. This can be achieved by catering to different budgets and missions.

Many shoppers will simply buy branded products, like Coca-Cola, because they prefer well-known names. It’s this reason that Pandya only stocks branded soft drinks lines.

“Own-label RRPs have increased so there’s not much difference stocking branded soft drinks,” he says. “Sales of branded soft drinks lines have always been higher, so this is what we stock.”

To help encourage shoppers to buy these branded soft drinks, Pandya gives his staff free drinks in summer. “Customers see staff drinking these and immediately think they want one, too,” he says. “It’s a simple way to drive sales, but it works.”

For Sohal, she stocks own-label options in larger formats of squash and smaller bottles aimed at children. “We have a Happy Shopper summer fruits drink in the chiller and it’s really popular with children. It’s a nice, easy drink to consume and refreshes them instantly,” she says.

Above all, Pandya stresses the importance of ensuring your refrigeration is working. “Start now and do a maintenance check and deep clean. It’s a chore, but you’ll thank yourself later,” he says.

How to market your summer soft drinks range

Getting the right products in is only half the battle. Of course, having new products in store will help drive stand out of your soft drinks range, but marketing will further drive that all-important visibility.

“If you make any changes, take pictures and shout about it on social media,” Pandya advises. “If you’re the first in your area to get a new product in, post about it. So many customers will travel quite a distance for new products, and they’ll almost always buy other things.”

Retailers that buy stock from Epicurium can also receive advertising materials from the brands we stock, which can be used on social media to drive customers to your store.

Prep your fridges ahead of a summer full of sport

Summer isn’t far away, so get in touch today to find out how we can elevate your soft drinks range and drive your sales and profits.

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