Schweppes (Coca-Cola) has announced a new range of premium tonic waters, Schweppes 1783, to combat declining sales in the face of competition from Fever-Tree.

Traditional flavours Crisp Tonic Water, Light Tonic Water and Golden Ginger Ale will be available alongside distinctive tonic water offers Salty Lemon, Quenching Cucumber and Aromatic Floral. Simon Harrison, customer marketing director GB at Coca-Cola European Partners, notes that the new range has been designed with “guidance from mixologists and drinks experts” and is intended to tap into a “new age of mixer drinkers that are keen to discover new flavours”.

The new range will be presented in a skittle bottle, of the same design that was blown and formed in a single piece by inventor Jacob Schweppe in 1783. It will be hoped that the golden sash and black livery will allow the product to stand out in both the on and off-trade, where Fever-Tree’s presence has been mounting.

The launch will be accompanied by the largest marketing effort in the brand’s history, with £6.6m to be injected to captivate consumers and bartenders. Engagement at taste experiences, festivals and nationwide cocktail events will be seen alongside digital efforts and TV and cinema advertising, including the sponsoring of The Jonathan Ross Show.

This bold strategy will be executed with the hope of carving Schweppes out a segment of the rapidly growing premium tonic water segment. This market has seen been increasing in value in recent years. This is thanks to the increasing premiumisation of spirits driving a concurrent interest in high-end mixers.

This evolving segment has enabled Schweppes’ rival Fever-Tree to experience vast growth in H1-2017, with UK revenues doubling to almost £33.6m, while Schweppes retail sales fell 6%. Moreover, Fever-Tree saw 76% gross profit growth in the UK during this period, with sales split evenly between on and off-trade. The company supported development with an expanding events programme, innovation in flavours, engagement with major and independent spirit brands and a premium image – a strategy that Schweppes will do well to emulate.

With consumers moving away from neat or iced based serves to long mixed drinks, a new effervescence is stimulating the mixer market. With Fever-Tree already established as a premium product range, the success of Schweppes 1783 will determine the brand’s fortunes in the coming years.