Alcohol and soft drinks are two of the mainstays of the convenience store industry, and innovation in these categories continued during 2010.

Diageo’s aim to grow the spirits market through the convenience sector was demonstrated with three successful launches: brand extensions for Baileys and Smirnoff; and a new line for its pre-mixed spirit portfolio.

It was generally a quiet year for beer and soft drinks launches as manufacturers concentrated more on driving established brands than on creating new lines, but there was a distinct American flavour with Bud 66 and Mountain Dew Energy both being released.

The boom in cider was reflected by the fact that Bulmers Summer Blend made it into our top launches list, despite the fact it was available only for a limited period.

Smirnoff & Cola

By combining the number one spirit with the number one mixer, the latest addition to Diageo's range of pre-mixed spirits is something of a no-brainer. Brand owner Diageo continued to develop its pre-mix range in the convenience sector last year and made a big push to back its vodka and cola launch.

Mountain Dew Energy

A huge brand in the US, Mountain Dew didn't resonate with UK consumers last time it was tried over here, but PepsiCo and Britvic cleverly gave it a twist for the 2010 launch by positioning it in the dynamic energy drinks category. And the 500ml PET bottle format is a tried and tested winner, too.

Smirnoff Blueberry Vodka

Another flavour development to a Diageo mega-brand, Smirnoff Blueberry was introduced to keep interest and excitement levels up after the success of previous variants, lime and green apple. It gave purchasers an extra option at the spirits fixture to make a long drink, and the outdoor advertising campaign raised awareness.

No Fear Extreme Energy

No Fear Extreme Energy is, according to its manufacturer Aimia Foods, the fastest-growing large format can in the UK energy market.

The drink, which is backed by the multi-million pound extreme lifestyle brand No Fear, made history in 2010 with the launch of the UK's first resealable can. The new drink was an immediate success with its predominately male, 16- to 24-year-old brand-conscious target market, and in the past 12 weeks alone, has achieved a 524% growth.

The resealable closure helps differentiate the brand, as well as offering consumers value for money (rrp £1.39) as it can stay carbonated once opened for up to 24 hours. A £1m investment is being made over the next 12 months and will include TV sponsorship, national advertising, media and store promotions, and national events.

Baileys Irish Cream Hazelnut

Flavours have added incremental sales to the Baileys cream liqueur brand, and hazelnut joined mint, coffee and caramel variants this year to add interest to this Christmas money-spinning category.

Bulmers Summer Blend

If there's one drinks category that has continued to deliver for convenience retailers over a long period of time, it's cider. Bulmers Summer Blend makes it into our list despite being a limited-edition product for the warmer months. A blend of apple and pear cider, the new line was perfect for light summer drinking.

Brand owner Heineken is aiming to build on its success with a limited-edition Red Apple variety for the winter.

Budweiser 66

Sweeter and less gassy than most lagers, Budweiser 66 was probably the only major new brand of note to hit the beer aisles during 2010. The 4% abv brew is aimed particularly at trendy young adults, with a premium price point to match.

Read more
Top launches 2010: Confectionary
Top launches 2010: The breakthrough bunch
Top launches 2010: The rest
Top launches 2010: Grocery and snacks