“Carbonated soft drink manufacturers are faced with a challenging marketplace in which they are battling not only to retain current users who are being encouraged to make healthy choices, but also to regain consumers who have already sought out alternatives. Companies are hedging bets on multiple packaging sizes, flavor innovations, and reduced-calorie formats to give consumers the variety that fits their personal preferences and lifestyles.”
– Jennifer Zegler, Beverage Analyst
Some questions answered in this report include:
- What can the industry do to improve its image in difficult times?
- What new occasions or opportunities are available for soft drinks?
- Can slumping sales of diet soft drinks be reversed?
- What is the next emerging soft drink alternative segment?
The carbonated soft drink category continues to enjoy 92.2% household penetration rate, according to Information Resources Inc. Builders Panel data. Yet, consumers are drinking less of the sparkling beverages. Still, due to price increases, category sales were $44 billion in 2012, which is a decline of just shy of 1%, according to Mintel research. In particular, consumer cutbacks have most drastically affected the diet soft drink segment, which experienced a 2.8% decline in dollar sales from 2010-12, while benefiting the seltzer, tonic water, and club soda segment. The sparkling carbonated soft drink alternative segment increased 9.6% in sales from 2010-12, benefiting from new consumers who want carbonation, without the high calories.
Meanwhile, manufacturers continue to develop strategies to stave off market stagnation, including a range of packaging sizes, flavor innovations, and innovative marketing that reminds consumers of the refreshment and fun embodied by their brands. The industry will need more than social media engagement to retain a place in the shopping carts of increasingly health-conscious consumers.
For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definition: Carbonated soft drinks are nonalcoholic beverages that have added carbonation. This includes beverages that do not contain additives, such as seltzer water, or they may include a range of flavors, sweeteners, and colors. Colas and non-colas are combined in the regular and diet segments.
This report divides the market into three segments:
- Regular or full-calorie (non-diet) carbonated drinks
- Diet, including sugar- or calorie-reduced, carbonated soft drinks
- Seltzer, tonic water, and club soda
Excluded from this report are sparkling water brands, carbonated energy drinks, and all alcoholic beverages. Sales of carbonated beverages through fountains and restaurants also will not be covered in this report, but were featured in Mintel’s Non-alcoholic Beverages at Restaurants – U.S., May 2013. Value figures throughout this report are at retail selling prices (rsp) excluding sales tax unless otherwise stated.
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