If you’ve noticed that your restaurant’s soda sales have softened, that’s because it’s part of a larger trend. Consumers are drinking less traditional soda drinks with high-fructose corn syrup and more water (flavored and regular), juice, iced tea and other options that they view as healthier. Data from industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp shows that sales of carbonated soft drinks have been on a downward slide from 2004-2014 and have leveled out to volumes from the mid-1990s.
There is some growth in the soda market. Although it’s still a small percentage of the category, craft sodas are picking up steam. It’s a trend similar to how craft beers have become a growth category in the beer market. People like the natural ingredients, the artisan stories behind them and unique flavors–they’re viewed as a healthier soda alternative.
Craft sodas give customers a new and interesting choice when regular water is just a little too boring and an alcoholic beverage might not be an option.
Add some new pop to your beverage offering.
The Washington Post showcased several new craft soda brands and how restaurants are pouring on new profits from the beverage trend.
Here are 11 ideas to get your customers sipping and loving craft sodas.
1. Find a local bottler that you could showcase. Ask for promotional support.
2. Inquire about private label options branded with your restaurant name of likeness.
3. If you don’t want to stock craft sodas, make your own with your soda gun. Create fruit, herb-based or other interesting flavored syrups. Mix to order and offer adult versions with alcohol.
4. Consider building a visual soda bar. Draw attention to it with lit signage, a platform, specially marked taps or even a display with many bottles and your signature names on them.
5. If your restaurant is a farm-to-table concept, you can use local and seasonal ingredients and highlight the purveyor.
6. Rotate your flavor offerings based on what’s in season.
7. Pair sodas with menu items, and help you sell more food along with beverages. You could even have a pairing menu or event.
8. Design special events to unveil new flavors can drive traffic and attract new customers.
9. Send out a news release on your craft sodas. The media loves to cover innovation and craft offerings.
10. Make it a spectacle. Hand crafting each serving can be a show for customers to watch. Tell the story behind the recipe, process or ingredients behind the soda, so customers can share the story a build buzz for your restaurant.
11. Serve your signature sodas in unique glassware to reflect the specialness of the handcrafted nature of the drink.
The flavors don’t have to be complicated. There’s a restaurant that I’ve been to a few times that has a special lemonade soda that’s a best-seller. It’s different every day because they infuse it with herbs grown in a garden behind the restaurant.
Signature sodas can add some fizz to your brand and bottom line.
By creating signature flavors with uniquely branded names, you can create another distinction from your competition. And best of all, craft sodas command a premium price.