Springing into action

Warm weather at the start of the year plus anti-sugar messages have helped water outgrow industry predictions.

The Highland Spring range in PET and in glass bottles. The company argues that stocking a range of different bottle types allows customers to choose the water products that best suit their needs.

THANKS to a good spring, bottled water has outpaced its predicted figures to be one of the leading growth categories in soft drinks in the UK, according to Scottish producer Highland Spring.

It quotes Zenith International retail figures until April 19 2014, showing sales of packaged water in the UK in 2013 exceeded 2.1bn litres, up 13.7% on the previous year. Zenith predicted market growth of 3.4%. That had, Highland Spring said, been exceeded by some margin.
“Highland Spring Group remains the largest supplier of plain bottled water in the UK, where 18% of all bottled water consumed is produced by Highland Spring Group according to Zenith International,” said Scott Dickson, senior brand manager at Highland Spring Group.
“With higher average monthly temperatures for every month to June in 2014, Highland Spring has seen unprecedented sales indicating the strength of the brand and the water category.
“Water sales increase as customers become more aware of the need to hydrate and quench their thirst when the temperature rises.”

Strathmore, AG Barr’s water brand, was the official water of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Increased media focus on reducing sugar consumption has also helped – plain bottled water is the only drink on shelf that contains no sugar or artificial sweeteners, he noted.
“Plain bottled water sales increased by 17.5% last summer according to IRI figures and, after the warm weather hitting Scotland over the last few weeks, we highly anticipate a similar statistic.”
Dickson recommends the Highland Spring 750ml sports single as “an increasingly popular on-the-go format for convenience stores”.
Sportscap bottles continue to show some of the highest rates of sales growth in plain water. “Our Highland Spring 750ml sportscap is one of our leading products in convenience stores and has grown by 51% on last year according to IRI.
“Smaller bottles including the 330ml and 500ml PET are also performing well within convenience stores, especially with parents as they are compact formats for family days out and picnics.”
But summer entertaining helps sales of larger take-home products in 1.5-litre and 2-litre sizes, he added.

CBL, the Perfectly Clear brand owner, sees the growth in flavoured waters as part of a general move towards healthier drinks. The company has identified children’s packed lunches as a potential area for growth and has developed a 250ml bottle aimed at that market.

• Soft drinks giant AG Barr agrees that water is a buoyant area of the market.
“With annual sales of £138m, water is growing at seven times more than Scotland’s total soft drinks market, making it the fastest-growing sector of a dynamic market according to Nielsen Scantrack,” said the company’s head of marketing, Adrian Troy.
Barr’s water brand, Strathmore, was the official water of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Troy now plans to move the brand on from there.
“We will build on the momentum, awareness and sales uplift generated by being directly involved with such a hugely successful sporting event,” he said.
Pack size and format is an important consideration for consumers when choosing water, he stressed.
AG Barr recommends stocking a variety of different bottle types to suit different occasions, from impulse 330ml and 500ml packs, to sportscap packs for active consumers, to large take-home packs.
• Enhanced waters, particularly those offering consumers vitamins and other minerals, are increasingly interesting to health-conscious consumers, according to Perfectly Clear brand owner CBL.
The company reckons that’s part of a trend away from high carbohydrate products towards sugar-free lines.
Maurice Newton, sales and marketing director at CBL Drinks, said: “Retailers are embracing enhanced waters and giving more space to flavoured water as consumers turn away from traditional sectors like carbonates and juices.
“Consumption per head of flavoured water is growing year on year and the Zenith forecast is for 10% growth yearly for the forthcoming three years.”
Newton reckons school children’s packed lunches provide a huge sales opportunity and CBL has developed a 250ml bottle of Perfectly Clear for to suit packed-lunch use.

Left, Abbey Well’s Thrill Britannia promotion, offering UK days out, runs through summer. Right, Britvic launched Irish water brand Ballygowan in GB in February, part of its plan to increase bottled water sales.

• The giants of the soft drinks have had a busy summer with promotional activity on their water brands.
Britvic’s Ballygowan, the leading bottled water brand in Ireland, was introduced in GB in February. The launch marked the first piece of 2014 activity in Britvic’s long-term plan to drive growth of bottled water in the UK as part of a bid to encourage healthy hydration.
The range contains a mix of formats including a 500ml still and sparkling (RRP 65p), a 750ml PET (RRP 94p) and a one-litre PET (RRP £1.09).
• Coca-Cola Enterprises has been running a day-out promotion on its water brand Schweppes Abbey Well.
Thrill Britannia offers consumers half-price entry to attractions and visitors parks across the UK through special labels on promotional packs. There’s also a prize draw with season tickets to Legoland up for grabs. The promotion ends this month.
Glaceau vitaminwater, also from Coca-Cola Enterprises, was supported by a World Cup on-pack photography competition that gave consumers a chance to win a trip to Brazil.
The winners received a trip for two people to Rio to watch a 2014 World Cup quarter-final match.
The firm said the competition was aimed at football fans as well as consumers who enjoy taking photographs. It was supported in-store and though social media services.