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Beyond the Bottle: How a beverage retail experience can drive sales

In today’s world of quickly-multiplying consumer touchpoints, drinks brands need to optimise even the finest details in their beverage retail experience and path to purchase to gain a competitive edge within the crowded market.

In this blog, we explore the increasing power that retail experience has to impact beverage sales. From eye-catching packaging that captivates consumer attention, unique in-store launches, the importance of findability, to the integration of online and offline promotion and displays of visual merchandising, we delve into the elements that make beverages stand out on the shelves. Here are some examples of the strategies that go beyond the bottle and transform the way customers engage with and purchase their favourite beverages.


Our participants revealed how packaging sparked delight in their beverage retail experience

In a Catalyx study on sparkling beverages conducted in the US, our participants discussed packaging and revealed that the products that sparked delight were most often the ones that made it to checkout. In many cases, this was reported a huge factor in brand loyalty:

Participant 1: If the package is eye catching. I prefer [my favourite beverage’s packaging] because it’s simple and reminds me of my childhood.

Participant 2: I do love that I can always spot my little [mascot] in the crowded aisle, that never runs out.

A key learning from the study was that packaging not only had the ability to generate brand loyalty – it had the ability to break it as well. Our participants revealed that in the beverage category, packaging with aesthetic intrigue has the power to poach attention away from an intended repeat purchase, converting shoppers from one brand to another.

Participant 4: I was blinded by the dazzle of the [competitor’s] sparkling water over my tried and true [regular] sparkling water.

As well as punchy packaging incentivising an individual purchase, participants also disclosed that enjoyable visuals could actually influence an increased volume of sales per customer.

Participant 5: It’s a very colorful presentation which I love. I think I purchased more when the shelves are colorful.


In-store Experiences: how Swoon created a first-of-its-kind product journey

In an era of digitalisation, exciting in-store experiences create a driver to footfall. An excellent example of this can be found in a development from one of our previous blogs. Since we wrote about successful beverage branding with the Swoon x Barbie beverage collaboration, the pink lemonade has made retail history. This timely launch has become the first drink to be stocked within the toy aisle of Target – creating a completely unique and exclusively in-store experience.

Having launched on shelves besides iconic Mattel toys and merchandise, the innovative Swoon x Barbie retail journey creates excitement for beverage-seekers and Barbie fans alike by immersing consumers in Barbie’s world, and benefitting from a far broader pool of shoppers. By creating a one-of-a-kind experience and utilising cross-promotion to drive sales effectively, this launch event has set a category-bending precedent.


What we learned from Corona Cero about product convenience

Convenience is a critical factor in the retail experience. For shoppers to find their ideal beverage with ease, our Catalyx-own research on Corona Cero serves as a poignant case study. While our research revealed that the beverage met the needs of its category and provided tangible value to the consumer when used, its path to purchase in-store generated shopping frustration. We discovered that this was an instance of poor findability as a result of compounding factors ranging from packaging to shelf placement, and it created the experience of disappointment and impression of low availability for consumers.

You can read our full report with the detailed findings and discover more in-depth learnings on the impact of convenience on retail experience.


Coca-Cola demonstrates on the importance of online and offline integration

As technology continues to innovate, seamless integration between online and offline channels is crucial. Customers expect consistency regardless of their shopping method, and once-predictable spending habits continue to shift worldwide. Coca-Cola has excelled in maximising omnichannel touchpoints, recently reclaiming their spot in Kantar’s top 10 most valuable brands list.

CEO James Quincey attributes the recent success to the brand’s drive to “become much more digital” in order to engage a Gen Z consumer base, presenting “the right product, in the right package, in the right channel”. Examples of this are found in their adoption of AI and tech-forward product launches such as their latest League of Legends collaboration. Thanks to a laser-focus on omnichannel touchpoints to supplement offline purchases with online promotions, the brand continues to expand its market share.


Visual merchandising and displays – how ZOA unlocked sales with a new, appealing look

Lastly, Zoa, the energy drink created by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, provides an example of the power of in-store displays. Zoa originally launched in 2021 with large black cans and masculine, fitness-related imagery, but has recently rebranded to engage a far broader consumer base.

Visual merchandising now plays a vital role, with smaller can sizes and gender-neutral packaging, creating an eye-catching on-shelf impression and encouraging exploration instead of segmentation. Zoa reported a sharp rise in bricks and mortar retail sales when the new look debuted, with a large in-store display of the cans multiplying sales in one big-box store 15-fold. Molson Coors’ Matt Stallman explained: “We’re finding ways to stop [consumers] in their tracks… when you get an array of singles together on display, they’re going to move. We see that in the numbers.”

Go beyond the bottle to level up your beverage’s retail experience

In today’s diversifying retail landscape, there’s no detail too small for a beverage brand to capitalise on. Retail experience comprises of complex factors, and the first step in tailoring your offering to shoppers is deep-diving into the purchase journey of your consumers. By doing this, beverage brands can transform the way consumers react to, engage with, and even advocate for their products.

Want to learn more?

Catalyx has launched Bitesize research to help brands iteratively unlock the bigger picture through the finer details such as the ones we’ve explored in this blog.

GET A FREE REPORT on The Battle of the Brands as an example of how we can deliver mind opening wow insights to unlock growth, in an iterative learning approach. Fast insights for fast decisions. Always the answer, never just the data.

Let’s talk. Click here to unlock your crowd.

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