SHS Group (£400m+ or $678m sales) bought the brand in May 2011, and also holds the UK’s top-selling adult soft drink, Shloer, alcoholic RTD WKD and Merrydown Cider in its drinks division.
Amanda Grabham, marketing director for SHS Group Drinks Director, said that, within a £25m market for premium glass cordials, Bottlegreen accounts for over half of all UK sales.
Speaking at the UK Soft Drinks Conference in London, Grabham said that trends shaping adult soft drinks and premium cordials include (1) health and naturalness, (2) transparency – with consumers wanting to know products come from (3) affordable treats (4) eco dining and (5) an “ageless society” driven by an aging population.
Bottlegreen is made using a wine-making process (cold filtration) in the Cotswolds, near Cheltenham in the UK, in a sustainable factory that Grabham claimed is virtually zero waste.
The brand only uses local suppliers, draws spring water from an on-site well and glass produced in the UK to reduce road miles.
'A trans-generational brand, a lifestyle choice...'
Describing Bottlegreen as a “trans-generational brand, a lifestyle choice”,Grabham said it spoke to the consumer desire for naturalness and their associated savvy around the ingredients used.
Entertainment, holidays, the home and fashion are important to the consumer base, and she said the brand’s product delivery and packaging needed to suit all core consumption occasions, for instance barbecues or dinner parties.
Flavor-wise, Bottlegreen’s elderflower flavour is its most iconic in the UK, and Grabham said the brand accounted for 70% of branded elderflower soft drinks sales in the country.
That said its two other ‘core range’ cordial flavors (within a nine-strong line up) are Pomegranate and Elderflower and Ginger and Lemongrass.
“Innovation is crucial, and we spend a lot of time asking consumers what they’d like from us. But interestingly, they tend to talk about flavors that are already in the market,” Grabham said.
“They ask us to produce a really beautiful lime, or strawberry… But we balance this with surprise and delight for consumers, sometimes we can’t look for our consumers to give us something that isn’t already on the market, so create more creative and innovative flavors in house.
A Blackcurrent & Coffee cordial launched last October is one example, and Grabham explains that the fruit is already well-established on the squash (liquid concentrate) market, so consumers recognize and desire the flavour.
“We tried to blend it with all sorts of things, and interestingly, coffee works beautifully well,” she said, while acknowledging that this kind of combination still involved an element of consumer risk.
Cashing-in on fruit tea, driving year-round sales
Thus, the brand offers a guarantee for such flavors by allowing consumers to switch them out for their preferred Bottlegreen variety if they dislike the taste.
Other recent innovations include a Mango and Coconut sparkling pressé, with Grabham describing it as a ‘taste of holidays’, while the brand entered the flavored tonic market in April 2013, with Pomegranate and Elderflower offerings.
Given the seasonal skew in soft drinks generally, and cordials in particular, Grabham said Bottlegreen was also working to drive year-round sales (and capitalize on growth in fruit teas) by promoting consumption of cordials with hot water.
She said the brand saw especial potential in cordial flavors such as blackcurrent and coffee, ginger and lemongrass, and autumn-winter only offering spiced berry.
Summing up, Grabham said that Bottlegreen was synonymous with “lifestyle, choice, and, indirectly value” despite its upmarket appeal and celebrity fans including HRH Princess Anne.
“All of our cordials are 10 to 1 – so actually from a 500ml bottle you will deliver around 22 serves. So actually our core consumers are well aware that Bottle Green delivers good value, but we very much focus on the premium cues of the brand,” Grabham said.