Paul Hill talks to Simon Oldham, chief commercial officer at Highland Spring, about recent successes and future plans
What has Highland Spring been up to over the past 12 months?
The past year has been a really busy and successful one for us. We’re in a luxurious position in the world of FMCG, in that we’re in a category that is still in growth. The latest Nielsen statistics have got impulse growing at 10.4%, and although some of this was driven by the hot summer we had last year, the underlying statistics are still positive in the category. From our point of view, we’re even way ahead of that at 21.6%.
How have you maintained your continued growth as a brand?
We’ve achieved this growth through a number of methods. Firstly, we made a big investment around three years ago in the form of a new bottling hall and line. This gave us the ability to maximise the strength of the brand, which we relaunched in 2017 with a new packaging design. Also, two years ago, we took a deep dive to analyse consumer habits, which gave us insight into what they wanted from a purchasing and consumption perspective. All this has benefitted the wholesale channel massively.
What new products should wholesalers be aware of?
We recently unveiled a fresh, modern new look for our sparkling range to better showcase its unique provenance and everyday hydration credentials. As well as this, our new eco bottle is now in wholesale depots across the UK through our distribution partner, Lucozade Ribena Suntory.
What advice would you offer wholesalers looking to grow in the bottled water category?
Sparkling water is a growing trend and I feel it is an area that wholesalers have never fully got right and seen the potential of. If you look at the market share of sparkling in total water, it massively under-trades in convenience. So, there is an opportunity for wholesalers to drive sparkling to their customers. It is now a drink people consume as a treat and not just with their dinner. Wholesalers also need to make sure they’re supporting big events by making sure the stock is readily available and kept visible. Water is a category that you need to keep reminding people about, so it needs to be prominent in depot.
What challenges do you envisage the wholesale industry facing over the next 12 months?
The deposit return scheme is coming out next year, so that will create complexity in Scotland. We’re working with the Natural Hydration Council and government bodies to gain advice on what the implications will be and what we need to do about them. Wholesalers need to start planning ahead as it might get to a point in which they’ll need two SKUs for the same product in relation to cross-border trade.
What activity is Highland Spring planning that wholesalers should be aware of?
The update of our sparkling range will be supported by a major multimedia campaign this September. It will feature a multi-channel marketing operation, including a month-long national campaign targeting consumers on the go. This rollout is part of a bumper period of activity for us, along with our ‘A to Anywhere’ drive earlier in the year. This £1.75m campaign helped educate consumers on the importance of healthy hydration, with statistics showing that 89% of consumers are not drinking enough water on a daily basis.