In the last five years, the proportion of Australians drinking soft drinks like colas and lemonades in an average seven-day period has declined from 56% to 49%.
But on closer examination, the figures hint that the market might simply be starting to choose a different kind of carbonated beverage.
In the mix
Between January 2009 and December 2013, consumption of unflavoured sparkling mineral water increased slightly from 7% to 8%, while the percentage of Aussies drinking “mixer” drinks like tonic water or dry ginger ale also rose, from 10% to 12%.
Obviously, these categories are consumed by far fewer people than Coke, Sprite, Fanta and the like, but their growth contrasts with the gradual decline of conventional soft drinks.
Sparkling non-soft drinks are especially popular with the Baby Boomer generation, with 16% drinking mixers and 10% drinking unflavoured sparkling mineral water at least once in an average seven-day period—both figures that are above the national average. The older Pre-Boomer generation also has a taste for mixers, with 17% drinking them in an average week. However, but they still haven’t been sold on sparkling mineral water, with only 7% of his category choosing clear bubbles.
Meanwhile, the younger generations tend to be less enamoured of mineral water and mixers, and are more likely to drink soft drinks than the Boomer generations. However, even their consumption of soft drinks appears to be gradually declining.
Angela Smith, of Roy Morgan Research, says the figures might reflect a growing health trend.
“As consumer preferences shift away from sugar-laden soft drinks such as colas and lemonades, and towards other healthier and more ‘natural’ sparkling beverages, we’ve seen increased marketing activity in this segment, from Liptons’ recently launched sparkling iced teas to Scarlett Johansson’s appointment as the global brand ambassador for Sodastream,” she said.
“While younger Australians aren’t quite as keen on unflavoured sparkling mineral water and mixers as their older counterparts, the overall move to these drinks is changing the nature of the non-alcoholic beverage market.
“Not only are we moving gradually away from soft drinks, but fewer of us are drinking fruit juices, energy drinks and sports/health drinks than we were five years ago too. It seems our tastes are slowly but surely evolving towards ‘lighter,’ less heavily flavoured beverages.”