Britvic has highlighted the increased flexibility of its media strategy as it looks to exceed historic levels of marketing spend in a bid to access “new growth spaces”. 

The drinks giant is developing a centre of excellence for consumer experience, focused on enhancing its digital marketing capability. The plan is to integrate the end-to-end consumer experience of the Britvic brands with “interactive communications” across social media, while also developing an in-house digital studio to create marketing content.

Having downsized marketing during lockdown, the company is looking to ramp up its investment, with advertising and promotion (A&P) spend hitting £58m in the year to 30 September, up 18.6% on 2020, but £6m down on 2019 levels.

“We will see a step up in A&P this year, as we catch up with those historic levels and have plans to go beyond that where we see the growth opportunities,” said Britvic CFO Joanne Wilson, speaking on an investor call today (24 November).

“What I would add is we have a much greater degree of flexibility than we have in the past just as a result of lead times for some of our A&P and media campaigns, which really helps us manage that through the year and make sure that we’re making the appropriate level of investment.”

Britvic’s after-tax profit increased 9.1% to £103.2m over the period, while revenue fell 0.5% to £1.4bn, with Great Britain and Brazil leading revenue growth. The company credited its “confidence” in marketing for the strong performance and pledged to maintain momentum.

We have a much greater degree of flexibility than we have in the past just as a result of lead times for some of our advertising and promotion, and media campaigns.

Joanne Wilson, Britvic

The brand called out its investment in “exciting marketing campaigns”, such as the Pepsi Max sponsorship of the Champions League tournament, alongside the launch of new flavours to broaden appeal, such as Pepsi Max Lime and Tango Dark Berry. Britvic also explained it had executed in-store and online activity to ensure its brands are visible to consumers.

“We have reinvested behind our brands in the second half of 2021 and will continue to do so 2022,” said CEO Simon Litherland. 

“With an exciting and comprehensive programme of marketing activation across all our markets. We continue to leverage our proven platforms, executing them in through the line to deliver scale activity for our customers, retail partners and brands.”

Over the period Pepsi’s retail value passed the £700m,with its no sugar Max variant the driver of growth. Tango and 7UP gained market share in the year, as J20 and Fruit Shoot returned to growth as the on-trade and schools reopened, and “mobility normalised”.

The shift to people moving about more freely has also called for smaller pack formats, which suited brands such as Lipton, Purdey’s and Aqua Libra sold for on the go consumption. Revenue for Lipton increased 47% in the second half of the year alone.

Growth areas

Britvic also highlighted the key growth trends for consumers turning to brands they trust and those that are better for their health, prompting a rise in sales of no sugar drinks or those with added benefits such as vitamins.

The company acquired plant-based drinks brand Plenish in May, with work underway for brand development and a relaunch next year. Britvic said it would look out for other acquisition opportunities, having also targeted the energy sector through the expansion of its partnership with PepsiCo to include Rockstar. In April, PepsiCo repositioned its Rockstar energy drink brand to shake off its immature image.

Litherland said the repositioning has “gone down very well with consumers”, despite industry-wide supply chain challenges occuring during the rebrand. The Rockstar brand was revamped with added health benefits and supported by a new marketing platform based around gaming.

The Britvic CEO noted the energy drinks sector is worth £1.4bn and has been growing by “double digits” for some time.

Britvic’s CMO on how marketers can be ‘engines of growth’

“We are confident that we will grow the brand [Rockstar] and take some share in 2022. We’re very excited about the brand and being part of the category,” said Litherland.

“With a brand like Rockstar and a partner like PepsiCo, with the quality of thinking behind the brand and marketing campaign, we are confident that we will start to participate in the category in 2022 and beyond.”

Britvic is planning a range of marketing campaigns in the run-up to Christmas for “family favourite brands” that have proven platforms and will be supported with a “multichannel approach” across TV, print, digital and outdoor advertising.

Examples given were fruit drink brand J20, which will return with the ‘It’s a Season to Sparkle’ campaign fronted by returning mascot Mojo the alpaca and Robinson’s with its ‘Let There Be Fruit’ platform.

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