Carbonates off-trade volume sales continued to decline in Thailand in 2018 as rising awareness of the health risks associated with a high sugar intake led more consumers to favour other types of soft drinks, such as bottled water. The negative impact of increased health-consciousness was compounded as off-trade unit prices rose substantially due to the sugar tax, which was implemented in late 2017.
In an effort to counteract the perception that this category is inherently unhealthy and appeal to younger consumers willing to experiment with novel tastes, a number of carbonates producers introduced new fruit flavour variants in 2018. For example, Aje Thai Co launched Cola Lime and Apple Mint flavours under its Big brand.
Despite declining demand in the off-trade channel, carbonates on-trade volume sales continued to grow in 2018. This was partly because busier lifestyles and rising disposable incomes led many Thai consumers to eat out more frequently.
Coca-Cola remained the dominant company in carbonates in off-trade value terms in 2018, with fellow multinational Pepsi-Cola retaining second place. Wide portfolios, globally renowned brands and continuous investment in innovation and marketing activities ensured neither player experienced a significant challenge to their competitive positions over the review period.
After an absence of several years, Serm Suk reintroduced the Sarsi brand in carbonates in 2018. Renowned for its foamy appearance and distinctive flavour, the fact that Sarsi is a root beer clearly differentiates it from most other carbonates brands.
As off-trade demand declined due to rising health-consciousness and the sugar tax, carbonates manufacturers pursued new marketing strategies in 2018 to try and strengthen the appeal of their brands. For example, Coca-Cola’s “Hula Hula with Coca-Cola this summer” campaign saw the company introduce 24 limited edition packaging designs for its eponymous brand.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Soft Drinks market research database.