Carbonated soft drink sales may be slowing a bit, but they still dominate convenience store coolers. Chalk it up to brand-loyal buyers or market saturation, but one thing is certain: This is a packaged beverage segment retailers can’t neglect.
As a whole, the packaged beverage category is a top profit driver for the convenience industry, accounting for about 20% of gross profit dollars, according to the NACS State of the Industry report. Unlike cigarettes, however, packaged beverages are absent any meddlesome legislation.
Carbonated soft drinks make up for more than 40% of packaged beverage sales, even as energy drinks and other segments have been growing to steal some of those cold dollars.
Soft drink consumers are fiercely brand-loyal, so it should come as little surprise that market leaders like PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Co., as well as PepsiCo subsidiary Mountain Dew, were ranked as top performers in the 2009 CSD Brand Preference Study. Dr Pepper (Dr Pepper Snapple Group) and Sprite (Coca-Cola Co.) were both chosen as honorable mentions.
“Carbonated soft drinks are still far and away the largest beverage category, bar none, in the U.S. beverage marketplace,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director for the Beverage Marketing Corp. in New York City.
Of the 93 key decision makers who participated in the “Packaged Beverages: Soft Drink” segment of CSD’s Brand Preference Study, almost half (48%) said they had been contacted by five or more soft drink suppliers in the last 60 days. About one in five respondents said they had been contacted by three or four companies in the last two months.