WHAT'S WRONG WITH SOFT DRINKS ?
So Coca-Cola is now a sparkling beverage instead of a carbonated soft drink and industry associations from Australia to Europe have removed soft drinks from their names in favour of beverages. Even Zenith's own magazine softdrinksworld has been renamed beverage innovation. Imagine the time devoted in boardrooms to these subtleties. Actually, finding the right expression for anything is important. Especially one that encapsulates an entire global industry. This blog will aim to add an informed and balancing comment on great issues such as this, as well as on quirky ones or on general new developments. It will also seek to stimulate wider debate in the hope of finding more satisfactory solutions or leading to better decision making. Well, what's wrong with soft drinks then ? In my view, not much. They're fun, refreshing and affordable. They offer convenience, choice and increasing health benefits. Overall consumption is growing remarkably consistently. There are issues surrounding calories and packaging waste and I hope to address these in the future, but all industries have to adapt to social change. Soft drinks are among the fastest to adjust. To me, the reason why the soft drinks industry is agonising over its name is because it is relatively young, it has never been regulated in the same way as agricultural products or alcohol, its success has brought unaccustomed scrutiny and society has yet to resolve its new perceptions about obesity or the environment. In some media, there is a straight line from soft drinks through sugar to obesity. One of the problems with soft drinks is that the expression means different things in different countries. The United States has had the narrowest definition of carbonated soft drinks. Continental Europe has included still fruit drinks. Zenith has always embraced a wider definition including bottled water, fruit juice and iced teas. In time, the universe may be extended to include drinking yogurts and flavoured milks, as is already the case with ACNielsen research. What of the alternatives ? Non-alcoholic is too negative. Sparkling could include champagne and water. Beverages are commonly associated with hot drinks as well as cold. Liquid refreshment beverages are rather a mouthful. For technical precision, one could decide on something like non-alcoholic non-dairy cold beverages, but that's not exactly media or consumer friendly. I have no problem with trying out new ideas. Sparkling may work. Beverages may do. But personally, I keep coming back to soft drinks as the generic category and carbonated soft drinks as the sparkling sector - as distinct from bottled water or fruit juice or other soft drinks such as still drinks or dilutables. If you have better ideas, I'd be delighted to hear them via firstname.lastname@example.org Richard