CHECKOUT: May 2021: Kevin Donnelly, Britvic Ireland – Love Irish Food

CHECKOUT: May 2021: Kevin Donnelly, Britvic Ireland

Britvic Ireland is rolling out a major brand re-launch campaign over the next few months to reflect what it believes are the four key trends that will define the soft drinks market between now and 2025. Maev Martin talks to managing director KEVIN DONNELLY


The summer of 2020 was characterised by limited opportunities to go out, picnics, and holidaying at home, and it looks like more of the same for this year. Nevertheless, Donnelly is optimistic about summer 2021. “I’m convinced that it will be better than 2020, although we won’t be back to the way it was in 2019,” he says. “I’m expecting a big bounce back this month and in June, with the vaccination rollout accelerating. Also, the most recent lockdown has been longer than last year’s first lockdown, which means that the consumer is itching to get out and about and establish familiar routines in terms of meeting friends and family, so that gives me cause for optimism. “There will be a lot of staycations, but they will happen in a more planned and conscious way this year as a lot of people got burned when they went to book B&Bs and holiday homes in 2020. Hotel bookings in the traditional holiday locations outside of Dublin look good, so I think we will have a reasonably strong domestic tourist season, but we won’t have the foreign tourists who tend to come through Dublin, at least as their first port of call.” Whatever summer 2021 brings, Britvic Ireland is coming out fighting, with the relaunch of four of its biggest brands this summer – Ballygowan, Club, MiWadi and 7-UP. “They will be relaunched on the market from May through to the end of July, because we are absolutely committed to re-emerging better and stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Donnelly. Ballygowan – Bottled Wild With the Ballygowan brand, they are launching a more modern design and new, lighter bottles. “The entire range will feature bottles that are 100% recyclable and, equally importantly, are made from 100% recycled PET, which is supporting the circular economy,” he says. “That will take out about 1,500 tonnes of virgin plastic from the environment. We are also changing the visual identity of the brand, which is a big move for a brand leader. We are moving to a ‘sky to land’ logo, which encapsulates the brand story of Atlantic rain filtered through limestone rock.” As reported in Checkout, Britvic Ireland launched its bottles made from 100% recycled PET in the 500ml size in October of last year. “We wanted to see if we could technically handle the PET and that trial worked extremely well, so we have now launched new, lighter bottles with the recycled PET on all pack sizes, which is going live this month,” says Donnelly. “Some of the pack sizes are already on supermarket shelves or in chillers, but the transition to the new bottles and new logo will be complete by mid-May.” Once all the packs are available in the market, Britvic will launch its new consumer advertising campaign called Bottled Wild. “There is a generation of consumers who weren’t around when Ballygowan was launched in the 1980s, so they don’t know the Ballygowan story,” he says. “It is important to tell them what we are about and to also remind consumers who were around back then that we are still proudly Irish and that we are the most sustainable water brand in the Irish market. That message is at the heart of this re-launch. Apart from the sustainable credentials of our new packaging, we are also bottled locally, so we are on the island of Ireland. Unlike a lot of the other water brands that are available in the Irish market, we don’t travel long distances to get to the Irish consumer. This is important to the modern consumer as they now view buying Irish as not just having an economic element, but as being a more sustainable way of purchasing and living.”

MiWadi – boosting immune systems Britvic Ireland are also introducing a new visual identity and TV advertising campaign for their Mi-Wadi brand. According to Donnelly, MiWadi Zero Sugar, which was launched five years ago, has 11% of the total squash market and is the fastest growing part of the MiWadi brand. “Starting this month, we are fortifying it with Vitamins B, D and zinc,” he says. “If you look at the government report issued on 8 April, they are recommending that everyone should take Vitamin D supplements to boost their immune systems, so we are very proud to be fortifying our drinks with these vitamins as we are supporting the immune systems of Irish families, the maintenance of strong bones, and the growth of healthy teeth.” Moving its MiWadi brand into the fastgrowing functional drinks space follows hot on the heels of Britvic’s recent launch of Rockstar Energy with its partners in PepsiCo. The big can energy stimulant drink has been in the market since February of this year. Staying with the energy theme, Britvic are launching a third variant of one of their strongest brands, Energise Sport, this month, which is called Energise Sport’s Fruit Punch. Like the Ballygowan and MiWadi brands, Club is also getting the new look and new bottle treatment. “In addition, we will launch a new variant for the summer that will put a smile on everyone’s face – the Club Pat Frog – a humorous take on the Fat Frog ice lolly, which I reintroduced in my Unilever days,” he says. “We have replicated that taste in a soft drink. It is a very distinctive green liquid that will be appearing on shelves this month. Our re-launch of the 7-UP brand and bottle will take place later in the summer. As you can see, we have a strong brand re-launch programme in several areas that we believe is bang on trend, which is why I am so optimistic about this summer season. With our big brands re-launch, we will emerge from the pandemic differently to how we went into it, and we are re-launching in a way that reflects the four main trends that we see in the soft drinks market.” Market defining trends Britvic Ireland has identified four trends that they believe will define the soft drinks market out to 2025, and possibly beyond. “The first big trend is health and wellness, but it is now moving on from being about the absence of sugar to the presence of goodness in the liquid, whether that is adding vitamins or minerals, or having natural goodness with real fruit, and with a particular focus on consumers looking to strengthen their immune systems,” he says. “The second big trend is consumers’ increasing desire to lead responsible and sustainable lives. We see that playing out in many ways, in packaging and in diet, with the growth of veganism, plant-based diets, and in the growing number of consumers buying local. These are all part of a mega trend of being a more responsible, thoughtful, and sustainable consumer. “Thirdly, we still see from our consumer research that having an enjoyable soft drink and a great taste experience is the key driver of brand preference. Consumers are expecting a great taste experience from low and no sugar products. Finally, the fourth trend is what I would describe as the universal need for energy. This need is evident across all age groups. For example, Behaviour and Attitudes’ annual survey called Sign of the Times, which was published in March this year, revealed that even in a pandemic, where our movements are restricted, 43% of the population describe themselves as feeling tired all the time. In the 16 to 24 age group that rises to an incredible 65%, so the need to boost energy is becoming a universal need, and consumers increasingly want to eat and drink to boost their energy levels.”