Cold drink preferences are keeping vending operators on their toes. One operator commented “So much is driven by social and political input, and what’s under attack and gets publicised . With ‘what’s better for you’ and the science behind it all, you can spin it any way you want”.
Water remains the No. 1 seller in a lot of cases, with customers mostly buying water and anything that’s not carbonated.
It appears that carbonated beverage sales fall off as customers turn to “diet” alternatives they perceive as being healthier. But now even sales in the diet category have fallen off as consumers seek noncarbonated alternatives and find a growing array of them from which to choose.
The word ‘diet’ is associated with artificial sweeteners and carbonated sodas, which consumers are turning away from. Many zero-calorie alternative beverages have the same ingredients but customers perceive them as being healthier.
Energy drinks are the single carbonated beverage category for which demand is growing. Working, active, younger consumers are not as worried about calories, and are buying a lot of energy drinks as an alternative to coffee, especially in the afternoon,
Another trend is the long-term pendulum oscillation from bottles to cans and back, and the direction in which it will swing next, as price becomes a growing concern to both consumers and operators. Bottles were the big push eight to 10 years ago, but now, with costs pushing prices higher, there appears to be a movement back toward cans by consumers who don’t want to pay more for a bottle.