Many consumers are treating nights in with friends and family as more of an occasion these days, says Amy Burgess, Trade Communications Manager at Coca- Cola European Partners (CCEP), and as such, people socialising at home is a growing opportunity for retailers and the wholesalers who serve them. These nights are often planned at the last minute, and this can make convenience stores a go-to stop for shoppers making impulse buys for their evening ahead.

Whatever the occasion, it’s likely that most consumers will be looking for an accompanying drink. With 21% of adults now choosing not to consume alcohol at all, it’s clear that soft drinks provide a major opportunity for independent retailers and wholesalers to increase their sales when catering for those enjoying nights at home.

Keeping good stocks of sharing formats of Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite, as well as adult soft drinks like Appletiser or Schweppes Sparkling Juice Drinks can help meet this demand, especially those looking for a premium option.

For many people, a night at home with friends is a direct substitute for going to a pub or a bar, and this is being reflected in their drinks choices.

Schweppes remains the nation’s most popular mixer, whether consumed with or without alcohol. This is partly due to the popularity of cocktails and mocktails, as consumers look to enjoy an indulgent drink during a night in that differs from what they would enjoy day to day.

Because of this, retailers should consider the importance of mixers alongside their alcohol ranges, enabling people to stock up on everything they need for their night in. The classic mixer chosen by those in the know, dating back to when Jacob Schweppe first put the bubble in the bottle in 1783, Schweppes is instantly recognisable to customers. The brand offers a wide selection of variants, ranging from Schweppes Indian Tonic Water to Schweppes Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Schweppes Bitter Lemon to provide for all shopper preferences.

Adult soft drinks is also a growing sector that is ideal for home entertaining, and products like Appletiser and Schweppes Sparkling Juices drinks are popular whether served on their own, or as an ingredient for cocktail making.

With some consumers looking to reduce their calorie and sugar intake, retailers should look to display lower or no sugar variants of wellknown brands like Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar or Schweppes Slimline as part of their Couples’ Night In displays, alongside their ‘original’ variants.

Healthier options

With the increased focus on health leading some consumers to change their usual drink choice to reduce their sugar or calorie intake, wholesalers should look to display lower or no sugar variants of wellknown brands as part of their ‘Big Night In’ offering. Schweppes offers a selection of Slimline products that will appeal to those looking to enjoy a lighter option as part of their cocktail recipes, potentially leading to incremental sales growth.

Since its launch in July 2016, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has become the fastest-growing cola brand in Great Britain, worth £148m, thanks to its sugar free credentials and great taste.

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