Summer is just around the corner and, given the unseasonably warm spring, this is the best time for food-to-go operators to focus on chilled and soft drinks ranges. So what do consumers want, what formats work best and what products need to be in a bakery retailer’s range?

The weather has a massive impact on soft drinks sales even more so when it’s hot so why not increase sales in line with soaring temperatures? Firstly, ensure your chiller is near the front counter or between your front counter and store entrance, as 80% of consumers prefer buying soft drinks from a chiller rather than a vending machine, according to consumer research firm him! With 70% of the customers purchasing for immediate consumption or consumption within the next two hours it goes without saying the beverages must be cold. A handy hint, to ensure your drinks are the coolest on the high street, is to always merchandise just before you close, and pull down the chiller blind if you have open-deck chillers. With door fridges, ensure you merchandise from the rear; that way customers always pull the coldest products from the front.

A core range is vital. Cola, diet varieties, waters, juices, smoothies and pre-prepared ice drinks are a must this season; no self-respecting baker or retailer would open without them. Once you’ve got your core range established, link your drinks with promotions or meal deals. Communication is the key to success, as are strong point of sale, briefing your staff and, most importantly, engaging your customers. Him! says that 43% of customers are looking for link deals or special offers every time they shop for food to go. And remember you can merchandise both savoury snacks and crisps and nuts in the chiller cabinets without affecting quality.

So what type of soft drinks do customers favour? Statistics show that single bottles represent 45% of sales. Customers are twice as likely to choose single cans and individual bottles for their convenience it’s something about the ability to reseal a 500ml bottle they like, especially when on the move.

Our customers are very brand-loyal, with over 80% searching out their brand of choice, so make it easy for them and vertically block merchandise. Range the most profitable products for example waters near the nation’s favourite brands, to create more awareness and, consequently, increase sales and profit. Customers are influenced by label preferences even the current economic climate does not affect this trend in the soft drinks market as much as in the foodservice sector.

So get ready to hit the summer highs with your new soft drinks range.

n By Max Jenvey of Oxxygen Marketing Partnership, a strategic management agency that delivers business acceleration processes and brand development within the bakery, foodservice and convenience retail sectors

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