It’s hard to top last year’s summer of celebrations, but hopefully 2013 will bring more consistent buying patterns, allowing retailers to be ready when the sun decides to shine and demand soars.


of barbecues take place between 4pm and 9pm, according to Kantar Worldpanel

There are popular summer options in each of the drinks categories, so keeping an awareness of growth sectors is important. Ensuring a good range of chilled drinks helps to create that point of difference from the supermarkets, but for many retailers space is limited and priorities need to be worked out.

Kay Patel, who runs four stores in East London, is in the process of reorganising his chillers to make sure he’s prepared for demand in popular cold summer drinks such as cider.

“I have increased space in the chiller for cider to two whole shelves now,” he says.

The total market for cider is forecast to grow further over the next five years, according to Kopparberg head of marketing Rob Calder. The brand is doing well, with its mixed fruit and strawberry & lime variants shining out from the rest. “This growth is being driven by multipacks,” he notes.

Equally, Brothers recorded “fantastic” results for flavours such as Brothers strawberry cider, which, according to the company, accounts for 50% of the brand’s volume sales. Toffee apple is its fastest growing SKU.

Meanwhile, Rekorderlig has developed a new limited-edition programme of NPD in order to trial new flavours on a rotational basis. Passionfruit is this summer’s limited-edition flavour.

On the soft side

While the sunshine does seem to be a long time coming this year, it only takes the thermometer to shift a couple of degrees for sales to start soaring. Summer is the second-biggest calendar opportunity for soft drinks after Christmas, according to Kantar data (year to August 5, 2012), so retailers need to think carefully about their range of non-alcoholic offerings.

So it’s not unusual for there to be a raft of launches around this time of year in readiness for increased sales. One of the latest from Coca-Cola is a limited-edition sparkling Summer Punch under its Schweppes brand. The drink is available in a 2ltr bottle or a pack of six 330ml cans, and the launch will be supported by in-store activity.

Other summer-focused drinks are also looking for convenience store shelf space. “Bigga is the biggest soft drinks brand in Jamaica, and is rapidly making its mark on the UK soft drinks category,” says John Payne, sales director at Wanis, which distributes Bigga (in fruit punch, grape and pineapple flavours). “The summer of sport in 2012, particularly the high profile of the Jamaican athletics team, did a lot to boost awareness of Jamaican and Caribbean food and drinks, which is shown in part by the 21% year-on-year growth the Caribbean soft drinks category is delivering (Nielsen 2012).”

Another Caribbean drink - Tropical Sun Ginger Beer (in 330ml glass bottles) - is also set to do well. “The fiery new drink has been launched to capitalise on the popularity of Caribbean and ginger-inspired flavours,” explains Jag Singh, brand manager at Tropical Sun Foods.

GSK has also extended its Ribena range with a pineapple & passionfruit flavour.

For a more detailed look at the summer soft drinks launches, see our feature in the next issue of Convenience Store.

The big brewers continue to be active in the cider market, too. Heineken’s Bulmers has appeared on TV from March this year in new summer-specific advertising. And Molson Coors has ventured into the cider category this year with Carling British Cider. The 4.5% abv cider launched exclusively into the off-trade in two bottle sizes.

Keeping cider in the chillers is the key for the convenience sector, agree suppliers. Jai Singh, who runs Singh’s Premier in Sheffield, explains that this summer he will be looking to give cider more of a central role in his fridges. “We currently have wine on one side, beer on the other, and a mix of cider and beer in the middle,” he says. “I want to get more cider in the fridge, as it has been doing really well since I increased the amount chilled five months ago.”


As well as cider, one of the consumer trends set to continue is the ongoing demand for world and speciality beers, according to AB InBev UK off trade sales director Simon Harrison. He points to world beers such as Leffe, Brahma and Hoegaarden as examples of popular beers in this segment.

Other global beers will also be looking to tap into the UK summer season.

“Barbecues and lager form a natural fit and what could be more perfect than a Caribbean beer?” says John Payne, sales director at Wanis, which distributes Carib lager. “The Caribbean connection, and growth in popularity of the Caribbean category, means retailers can charge a premium. They can also capitalise on this trend by creating linked-deals themed around barbecue.”

Carib is offered in bottle format and is a 5.2% abv full-bodied lager.

Other beer newcomers are set to target the adventurous beer drinker. “From a beer perspective, drinkers will be looking for something different to the regular mainstream lagers,” says Chilli Marketing marketing director Gemma Copping. “Saint offers a full-bodied taste, but is a light lager.” The premium lager is also brewed in Britain, notes Copping.

Brewers are also investing in marketing this summer. Molson Coors is offering a one-in-four chance to win ‘Brilliantly British’ prizes on promotional packs of Carling, with prizes including Land Rover Defenders and Triumph Bonneville 2013 motorcycles. There are also chances to win prizes at specific retailers.

In the impulse channel, Nisa shoppers could win a year’s grocery shopping, with further dedicated prize pools for Costcutter and Spar shoppers. The promotion will run throughout the summer, ending on August 31, 2013.

And Stella Artois will be back on TV this spring, raising the profile of the beer in time for summer. Brewer AB InBev will also be running on-pack promotions for Budweiser, which offer the chance for consumers to win VIP FA Cup Final tickets.

If convenience stores are concerned about losing out to the multiples and their beer price promos, they need to remember they do have some advantages over their supermarket rivals, points out a recent report by HIM, which focuses on the beer and cider category in the convenience sector.

“Shoppers in this sector don’t want multi-buys, but they would like to see meal deals, such as a curry and beer combo, or cider and crisps snack deals,” says shopper research & insights manager Blake Gladman. “Chilled availability is also a strong point of difference for convenience retailers.”


The fairly new category of lower alcohol is continuing to perform well, and one of the winners of this has been lower-alcohol wines.

Retailer’s view

“Cider does well as soon as the sun comes out. I had a lot of cider left over from last year as it wasn’t such a good summer, but it is still in date so I hope to shift it before June.

“Kopparberg did well for me last year, but otherwise I feel sales of fruit ciders are tapering off. Stella Cidre and Magners are the ones doing well for me at the moment, but that may change as the weather improves or promotions begin.

“Rosé did well last year again, and also Gallo’s Summer Red wine. I expect I’ll see more competing brands coming out to tap into this interest in chilled red wine, so I’ll have to make more space in the chiller.

“We sometimes run in-store promotions on Pimm’s when the Wimbledon tennis tournament is on, but mainly it’s the chilled drinks that I need to focus on when the sun comes out.

“We also run promotions on bulk packs, and as a result cases of white and red wine tend to do well.”

Kay Patel, four stores in East London

Last summer, Percy Fox launched Blossom Hill Vie, a reduced alcohol wine-based drink in two variants - white (with a hint of citrus, pear and apricot), and rosé (with ripe peach and strawberry flavours).

“The range was launched following research that showed many wine drinkers found regular occasions when they would like a glass of wine, but do not want the alcohol content it contains,” says Rachel O’Shea, Percy Fox marketing manager for Blossom Hill.

A new product to suit the convenience market is Intrepid Fox, a single-serve wine glass filled with 187ml of wine. The product, by Buckingham Schenk, will initially launch with a range of Chilean wines - a sauvignon blanc, a rosé and a shiraz variant.

Continental Wine & Food (CWF) marketing director Julie Ingham says retailers should clear their shelves of the lines which gather dust to get themselves ready in time for the summer rush. “Convenience operators should think about promoting wines with food, which allows the potential for cross-promotion, and themed food and drink displays to encourage sales.”

In terms of wine trends, Ingham notes that Italian wines continue to thrive, as do sparkling wines such as CWF’s Prosecco (Casa Gheller).

White wine is the most popular wine, growing faster than red and rosé, explains Accolade Wines European marketing director Clare Griffiths. “However, rosé continues to be a key driver of the impulse purchase market, growing ahead of the total wine market at 1.2% (versus 0.3%),” she says.

Griffiths notes that Accolade’s lighter drinking options from Banrock Station (the 5.5% abv Light Wine and Light Rose) are ideal for the summer, while the company’s recent Sparkling Collection launch also taps into this.


Over the summer, many consumers seek out the refreshment that cocktails and long drinks can bring.

“Long drinks are always a summer favourite,” confirms Roy Summers, head of category management at First Drinks. “In the months leading up to the summer, First Drinks promotes a range of simple, long drinks using key brands from its premium spirits portfolio, including Sailor Jerry, Hendrick’s, Monkey Shoulder, Disaronno, Tia Maria, Green Mark and Cointreau.”

Suggested recipes, which are easy for consumers to make at home, include Sailor Jerry & Ginger (Sailor Jerry, ginger beer and lime) and Cointreau Lime & Cranberry (Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime wedges). Says Summers: “We know that consumers look to recreate what they experience in the on trade and so we make a range of simple serves available to consumers in the off-trade.”

Ones to watch

Ice cider

Premium Swedish Cider brand Rekorderlig has added a new 
limited-edition flavour to its portfolio in time for summer. The passionfruit-flavoured drink is described as being best served over ice and with a wedge of lime. It’s the first time Rekorderlig has launched a limited edition variant especially for summer and it is designed to complement the wider Rekorderlig cider offering. Rekorderlig has also unveiled its marketing campaign featuring rising Swedish stars, which will take place through social networking sites.

rrp: £2.15
tel: 0870 2424608

Add some sparkle

Accolade has launched four sparkling, wine-based pre-mixed cans (25cl), designed to appeal to new drinkers and to tap into the growing pre-mix can market, which is well suited to the convenience sector. The Sparkling Collection includes: Hardys Peach Bellini; Hardys Strawberry Bellini; Banrock Station Infusions Summer Berries; and Stone’s Ginger Punch. Variants launched last year, which will also form part of the Sparkling Collection, include Echo Falls Spritz Pinot Grigio and Echo Falls Spritz White Zinfandel Rosé.

rrp: £1.85
tel: 01483 690000

Cocktail time

Parrot Bay frozen alcoholic cocktails are available for retailers from this month. The ‘freeze and squeeze’ single serve, ready-to-drink cocktails come in three flavours - Berry Daiquiri, Citrus Daiquiri and Pina Colada - and are ideal for impromptu gatherings. The cocktails are packaged in a liquid pouch format, which is frozen prior to consumption. Diageo hopes the concept will appeal to the growing number of consumers who wish to create cocktails in the home, but may want a helping hand, or who may be seeking out a time-saving option.

rrp: £2.49
tel: 0845 7515101

Good buddy

Global Brands has launched a 
5.1 % abv Bourbon-flavoured beer. Buddy’s has been introduced to tap into the growing demand for ‘spirit beer’ products, a market which Global Brands predicts will see phenomenal growth this year. The bottled drink, which is designed to appeal to 18- to 24-year-old men, mixes beer, Bourbon and honey to create a distinctive taste. Global Brands also makes the Tequila-flavoured beer Amigos, which was launched in 2009. The beer is brewed under licence from Buddy’s Brewhouse, Michigan USA.

rrp: £5.20 for 4x330ml bottles
tel: 01246 216000

Another big growth area is the pre-mix can segment, which proves particularly popular in the summer months. The pre-mix segment is currently worth £13m in value sales in convenience, with 33% of value sales growth year on year (Nielsen, year to January 5, 2013), which is the fastest growing segment of the beers, wines and spirits market.

To tap into the ready-mixed and cocktail segment Diageo this month launched its Parrot Bay frozen alcoholic cocktails. The producer has also brought out a collection of flavoured gins, comprising bottles of Gordon’s Crisp Cucumber (Gordon’s Original Gin blended with cucumber flavouring and designed to be mixed with tonic) and pre-mixed cans of Gordon’s & Tonic with a hint of cucumber and Gordon’s and Tonic with a dash of elderflower.

And like the pre-mix segment, smaller bottle sizes in spirits also see an increase in sales over the summer, according to Rosalind Nash, senior category development manager RTM & convenience Diageo GB. “Growth in 35cl spirits and other fractionals supports the evidence that shoppers are increasingly buying within a budget and looking for ways to save on spend during each shopping trip.”

Meanwhile, Sourz has launched its latest new permanent flavour, Sourz Mango, as the company believes there is an opportunity for more exotic flavours to take off in 2013.