Sales in carbonated beverages have plateaued and even decreased slightly during the past five years, Brandweek reported.
From 2003-2008, Mintel, a Chicago-based market research company, estimates the regular soda segment lost 15.6 million consumers age 18 and up, and the diet soda segment only added half as many, or 7.8 million adult consumers.
In addition, 34% of adults who buy beverages began drinking more water and fewer carbonated beverages to manage weight or other health conditions, such as diabetes compared to 2006 according to “America’s Changing Drinking Habits” published in February 2009, Brandweek reported.
In the c-store channel, dollar sales in carbonated soft drinks fell 1.9% (to more than $8.3 billion), while unit volume declined 5.5 % (to more than 5.5 billion) for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 27, 2008, according to Nielsen Co. Scantrack data.
But despite declines, the category still is the largest in packaged drinks, bringing in more than twice as many dollar sales and more than three times the unit sales as alternative drinks which are the next largest segment.
The change in customer buying habits has lead some c-store operators to decrease the amount of cooler space devoted to carbonated soft drinks.
C-store owners are watching customers switch to bottled waters, flavored teas, enhanced waters and juice drinks. When it comes to carbonated soft drinks, consumers are opting more for the traditional Coke and Pepsi products, rather than the flavor promotions the two beverage giants often release.
One trend working well in c-stores is smaller-size soft drink cans, which appeals to those consumers seeking portion control or reduced costs. Promotions also are helping sales, and have lead some customers to opt for Mountain Dew over more expensive energy drinks, for example.
“The 14- and 16-ounce sizes at good prices seemed to have helped the category some for us,” Jim Schacklett, general buyer and supervisor for Shay Oil Co. in Yuma, Ariz., with 17 stores told Brandweek. “It’s still early to tell-Coke has had its 16-ounce version out for eight months, and Pepsi about three months, and the 14-ounce size has only been out since February. But I think it’s good that we can now offer the younger core consumer better prices on soda.”