E-Commerce in Soft Drinks

April 2024

E-commerce represents a small but thriving global retail channel for soft drinks. This briefing examines Euromonitor International’s e-commerce data across 15 markets, focusing on soft drinks brands’ performance in 2023. Leading brands, categories and retailers for online beverages are explored in the context of wider consumer trends in drinks.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Soft drinks e-commerce winners are using limited time offers, exciting flavours and seasonal opportunities

Harnessing seasonal opportunities and increasingly trend-sensitive online consumers is emerging as a common thread among online beverage success stories. Whether through online exclusives (eg Coca-Cola’s Happy Tears on TikTok Shop) or expanding the appeal of functional categories (like powder mixes) – new or exciting flavours are an important marketing tool online.

Drinks companies invest online to sell – but principally to build their brands and maintain relevance

Leading global suppliers of soft drinks continue to feel the impact of upstart, independent brands gaining share through the power of celebrity. While e-commerce is unlikely to be a dominant volume channel, digital marketing and higher return-on-investment advertising online will be a priority, particularly through e-commerce sites, where competition is intense and consumer behaviour is even more likely to be influenced by social media and online influencers.

Premium and functional categories have a particularly strong presence in e-commerce

Retailers and suppliers online must focus their energies on developing and expanding functional categories – which have an outsized presence online (particularly in online marketplace channels, where consumers are more experimental and impulsive than online grocery). Energy drinks and non-RTD powder mixes remain winning areas, catering successfully to resilient demand for health and wellness options, despite their premium prices.

Optimising pricing and packaging for the online consumer

While inflation is moderating in 2024, price and packaging mix must be constantly evaluated to understand the price elasticity of cash-strapped consumers fatigued by the perceived increase in the cost of living since 2021. Smaller multipacks, mini-cans and lighter weight options, along with subscription models, will be necessary to minimise exorbitant shipping costs for RTD items, particularly in value-added health and functional categories, where price/litre is already high.

Surging global soft drinks e-commerce sales in 2023, driven by higher US prices
Soft drinks online generally follow a familiar seasonal pattern of consumption
Global giants Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo contend with a fragmented online shelf
Grocery leads overall, but Amazon and online marketplaces drive emerging functional brands
Price rises, package mix and premium category preferences drive value performance
Multipack options online are shrinking, further driving value per litre
Private label bottled water and juice perform well in online grocery e-commerce
Functional demand fuels performance of concentrates, sports and energy drinks
Unilever’s Liquid IV electrolyte mix has emerged as an e-commerce leader within soft drinks
Hydration, sports nutrition and convenience emerge as e-commerce priorities in drinks
Prime (Congo Brands) establishes a new blueprint for online brand building
Rapid growth of Douyin as a soft drinks retailer underscores the potential for US TikTok Shop
TiQ prune juice: A cautionary example of viral wellness fads driven by online marketplaces
Soft drinks retailer profile: Target (US) top performers point to wider functional momentum
Soft drinks online: Recommendations in 2024

Soft Drinks

This is the aggregation of the following categories; Carbonates, Fruit/vegetable juice, Bottled water, Functional drinks, Concentrates, RTD tea, RTD coffee and Asian speciality drinks.

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