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Top 3 soft drinks for health in Q2: Which UK brands are “sweetening” their reputations?

With the soft drinks industry locked in a seemingly unabating battle with health professionals and NGOs, academics and Government bodies over the ill effects of sugar on public health, moves to reduce sugar content and improve consumer health have been well received by a wide range of stakeholders.

In addition to the launch of reduced sugar or sugar-free products, soft drinks brands in the UK have boosted their reputations in recent months by focusing marketing and advertising on the promotion of healthy lifestyles and active family life.

Highlighting the “health credentials” of soft drink brands while visibly linking the drinks to youth and family fitness is a theme that links the top three soft drinks brands in the alva Health rankings for Q2:

1. Vimto (Nichols): Vimto has recently launched its new Vimto Minis range, with packaging highlighting the drink’s lack of added sugar. The range also features re-sealable sports caps meant to appeal to healthy, “on the go” families. The brand has also amplified positivity around its low-sugar products by sponsoring the UK’s Fusion Festival, where it plans to increase consumer awareness of health issues and promote its drinks’ sugar-free credentials.

2. Robinsons (Britvic): Robinsons’ decision to discontinue its full-sugar squash range launched the brand to the top of alva’s Health rankings in Q1. More recently, the brand has encouraged healthy lifestyles with the Great Robinsons Ball Hunt. Taking advantage of its historic ties with Wimbledon, Robinsons hid giant tennis balls throughout the UK and rewarded children who found them with tennis-themed prizes.

A theme for brands that have enjoyed the most positive reputations is the presence of a visible brand ambassador; Robinsons effectively utilised tennis great Tim Henman to amplify the brand’s promotion of youth fitness.


3. Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola is sponsoring the Rugby World Cup this year, and, for the first time, its advertising efforts are focused on sugar-free Coke Zero—and are paired with free, rugby-inspired fitness events across the country. With the recent launch of naturally sweetened Coca-Cola Life and plans to cut calories across its entire portfolio by 10% over the next five years, Coca-Cola is visibly shifting its focus to healthier soft drinks options.

As the war on sugar heats up, soft drinks’ contents and brand positioning will become increasingly important—and alignment with family fitness could be the first step for brands looking to improve their reputations for health.

This is an area that alva will be tracking closely over the coming months, working to understand stakeholder reactions to changes in soft drink ingredients, flavours and marketing strategies.

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