The Robinsons Fruit Creations squash range was developed to rescue the category. © Britvic PLC
The Robinsons Fruit Creations squash range was developed to rescue the category. © Britvic PLC

How Britvic turned around 'underperforming' squash

posted by Lucy Patchett
7 November 2019

Soft drinks firm Britvic collaborated with Sainsbury's to turn around a downturn in squash sales across the market.

The two companies worked together to bring value back to the “underperforming squash category” through strategies around revisiting the category basics, simple innovations of the products, and marketing to increase consumer uptake. 

Speaking at the IGD Live Category Management event in London, Laura Priestley, head of category management at Britvic, described how in 2018 the company partnered with Sainsbury's to tackle the continuing 5% value decline in squash, which had resulted in a loss of about £27m over two years. 

Priestley said: “A collaborative relationship between ourselves and Sainsbury's has helped us turn around an underperforming squash category.”

Britvic rebranded and reformulated Robinsons squash into a new range to add value to an existing product, including its "Fruit Cordial" range and "Fruit Creations" squash collection. This was part of a strategy to “go back to the basics” and innovate the product to grow the category.

"It's not rocket science, but sometimes it's the obvious things that get overlooked. The first step was to revisit the category basics. Too often we try and look at the fancy stuff, and we don't go back to basics. It was the cheapest category of soft drinks where there was an opportunity to actually innovate and add premium back into the category along with excitement,” said Priestley.

Through research Britvic and Sainsbury's discovered that “people were looking for a real fruit health proposition.”

She added: “The biggest growth in consumption is tap water. Adding squash to tap water is a great way to enhance the taste. It was a real opportunity for the consumer, and a real opportunity for both manufacturers and retailers, if we can maximise that.” 

Britvic also helped develop new marketing strategies by suggesting Sainsbury's reduce the amount of store promotion fixtures to bring focus and donate a percentage of sales to charity to attract shoppers.

Priestley said Britvic chose to partner with Sainsbury's because it was "the right fit for the category, the profile of shopper was perfectly aligned with squash, and while all of the big four retailers were struggling with squash, Sainsbury's was still declining the fastest versus everyone else".

The collaboration resulted in Sainsbury's going from underperformance to outperformance with about 6% above their competitive set, said Britvic.

Britvic has since won several awards for their revitalisation of the Robinsons brand, including the grand prix at the Marketing Week Masters awards 2019.

Speaking at another session, Simon Attfield, category insight manager at IGD, highlighted the importance of collaboration.

“Collaboration is now becoming more of a norm. Lack of cooperation, skills, and training partner capabilities used to be key barriers, but as a function we've moved on. We’re getting better at it,” he said.

Attfield said that building trading relationships was the biggest benefit of category management, because it allowed buyers to work with suppliers to solve problems in the marketplace while saving resources.

But an IGD survey found the biggest barrier to instituting category management was lack of resources. “The number one barrier to delivering category management is the lack of resources, time and money,” said Attfield.

“We will never have enough resources, we just need to use it better or more wisely. I think we also need to think about where the real future is going to be, where our real growth opportunities are and make sure we're putting our resources in the right place.”

The survey found “improving trading relationships” and “improved sales and turnover” were the top two benefits. 

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