Last week’s survey of Britain’s biggest brands published in The Grocer made for interesting reading. Four of the top 5 reported significant declines: Coca-Cola, Warburtons, Walkers and Birds Eye all down over £20m with Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) treading water.
Looking at the category dynamics shows that sliced bread is no longer the best thing after all. The 3 brand leaders (Warburtons, Kingsmill, Hovis) went backwards to the tune of £94m, with Kingsmill contributing half of the fall. The recent delisting from Tesco won’t help that particular brand’s recovery.
The negative publicity around the high sugar content of fruit juices hit both Tropicana and Innocent who declined 7.1% and 10.8% respectively. The slack in the drinks category appeared to be taken up by the French bottled water brands, Volvic and Evian, both up £20m year on year. Pepsi bucked the trend in carbonated soft drinks with the biggest rise of anyone (plus £31.4m, 8.5%) and the energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster) also performed creditably.
A number of the big confectionery brands also had a poor year with Mars (sponsors of England football) clocking up a double-digit decline as disappointing as England’s world cup and Snickers not faring much better. Cadbury (excluding CDM) was down over 15% while Kit Kat also suffered. All that reduction in sugar clearly led consumers to feel they didn’t need any help dieting. WeightWatchers tipped the scales £43.8m lighter, a whopping 21.6% drop.
There was more positive news from the dairy category. Cathedral City, Lurpak, Yeo Valley and Anchor all grew strongly. For those lactose avoiders, Alpro showed one of the biggest gains, up £22m and 22 places to number 78 in the charts.
In hot beverages Nescafe continues to dominate the declining category of instant coffee. Twinings overtook the Tetley tea folk but PG Tips remains Britain’s favourite brew. Unilever also enjoyed success with its fabric conditioner, Comfort, up nearly 15% on 2014. Many shoppers also felt that it doesn’t have to be Heinz with both soup and beans in decline.
Overall it was a mixed bag of results with more than a hint at a continued move to healthier eating. At least there’s a sign that the nation might be a little happier than last year: sales of Kleenex fell 4%