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Big Splash or Barely a Ripple? Assessing the Impact of Paris 2024 on the Beverages Industry in France

6/14/2024
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The main benefit of the Paris 2024 Olympics for beverage brands will be for them to boost their engagement with customers through marketing campaigns connected to the Games. However, the impact of the Olympics on volume and value sales of drinks in France will be minimal.

Another possible benefit of the Games is connected to sustainable packaging. Paris 2024 will see several related initiatives (such as the use of reuseable cups), and these Games offer a platform to increase awareness of sustainability in general and sustainable packaging more specifically in France.

The Games will also offer an opportunity for smaller categories like non-alcoholic beer to gain visibility because of their widespread availability at Games’ venues.

Generating engagement and developing consumer relationship

The Olympics present a huge opportunity for beverage brands to boost engagement and develop their relationship with consumers as it can persuade customers to associate a brand with an iconic, positive event. Coca-Cola, through its sponsorship of the Games, is a prime example of this.

In April 2024, the company launched its “Celebrate Everyday Greatness” campaign for the Paris Olympics which focuses on highlighting big and small everyday moments that can lead to something greater. The idea of this campaign is to show how regular, day-to-day work can eventually lead to greater successes, much like how training every day can lead to a gold medal.

Coca-Cola’s campaign in Paris will have a focus on digital (eg social media) and live experiences (eg fan zones). This will give the campaign not only a broad reach but also the ability to reach out to and connect effectively with younger consumers.

As an example of this, in April 2024, Coca-Cola announced that it will organise six concerts to take place around France alongside the Torch Relay.

Despite this benefit, hosting a major sporting event does not have a clear, notable impact on a country’s volume sales of drinks. For example, total volume sales of carbonates and bottled water (the two largest categories in non-alcoholic drinks) did not see a notable rise when the UK and Brazil hosted the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, respectively. In fact, the years surrounding the Games saw stronger growth rates than the year of the Olympics in both these countries.

Rising prices faced by consumers, the health and wellness trend and the desire for healthier, functional products, and evolving new product development will all have a greater impact on sales during the year

Source: Euromonitor International

Paris 2024 will push sustainable packaging, but the long-term impact could be limited

Sustainability – through sustainable packaging – is another area in which Paris 2024 may impact the beverages industry. The Games could help shift the culture in the country in matters related to beverages packaging by making recyclable and reuseable packaging more prominent and acceptable, and showing that it can work on a large scale.

Several initiatives are taking place to encourage a sustainable Games, such as that from Coca-Cola, which will install 700 beverage fountains at competition venues where spectators will receive their drinks in reuseable cups. After the Games, the fountains will be redistributed throughout France. Some Games locations, as well as hospitality areas, will also use returnable glass bottles.

Whilst potentially contributing to improving the perception and use of sustainable packaging in France, Coca-Cola can also develop its relationship with consumers by using the Games to persuade consumers that they are acting in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.

Factors such as reducing food waste, recycling, and reducing energy consumption are all given as much priority as using sustainable packaging and reducing plastic use when French consumers try to positively impact the environment

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey, fielded January to February 2024

Thus, whilst the Games could give a much-needed boost to this aspect of sustainability in France, given that consumers are less willing to pay more for environmentally-conscious products than other considerations, and given the importance of other environmentally-friendly actions, it seems the long-term impact could be limited despite sustainable packaging being at the forefront of such a major event.Chart showing "Which of the following qualities are you prepared to pay more for?"Chance for small categories to gain visibility

In January 2024, AB InBev became an official sponsor of the Olympics, causing Corona Cero (a non-alcoholic beer) to become the official beer of the Paris Games. Meanwhile, Tourtel Twist – the largest non-alcoholic beer brand in France – is also an official supporter of the Games.

The presence of non-alcoholic beer at the Olympics will likely help raise consumer awareness of the category in the country, given how exposed the non-alcoholic beer will be during competition time – helped also by the fact that alcohol will not be present at the Games due to French law.

This comes at a good time for the category given that non-alcoholic beer is growing in popularity in France, a trend driven by the fact that, today, there is a notable proportion of consumers who are looking to cut down their alcohol consumption for health reasons.

Whilst the Olympics will help non-alcoholic beer a little, for example through the opportunity to engage with consumers, future sales growth and development of the category in France is more largely driven by other factors such as the desire to moderate consumption to lead healthier lifestyles.Chart showing percentage of respondents in france trying to reduce or quit alcoholOverall, boosting consumer engagement is the main way beverage brands can benefit from the Olympics. Drinks manufacturers can capitalise on the positive spirit of the Games to engage with consumers, particularly young and new ones, and create a brand association not only with a world-famous event but with health and wellness – currently one of the most enduring trends within the drinks industry.

Read the article, False Start? Assessing the Impact of Paris 2024 on Beverages for more analysis, including on the opportunity for companies to raise awareness of lesser-known brands within their portfolio. Find out more about the impact of the Olympics in our report, Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Challenges and Opportunities for French Tourism

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