Because it is officially spring, I’m pining for that first summer barbecue already. With summer cookouts, come retailer promotions tempting cost-conscious consumers into stores with good deals.

Beverages, especially carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), often get promoted as retailers have interest in using them to draw consumers into the store, says Richard Haffner, head of global beverage research for Euromonitor International, Chicago, in the 2011 Soft Drink Report on page 22.

MarketTrack, Chicago, in a recent review analyzed the promotional activity of 100 retailers across 62 markets for key summer holidays — Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. CSDs were the most featured category among beverages when looking at front page share of voice (SOV) and saw an increase in 2010 vs. 2009. Retailers are still heavily promoting this category as it is a true traffic driver, the market intelligence firm says.

Additionally, MarketTrack saw a decline in promotions for bottled water in 2010. Sports drinks saw an increase in front page SOV, representing 9.1 percent front page SOV in 2010 compared to 6.7 percent in 2009. New product launches including Gatorade’s G Series Pro line and a move back to soda promotions by manufacturers in 2010 drove these shifts, the research firm says.

As expected, PepsiCo and The Coca Cola Co. were the leaders in front page SOV. Private label beverages, though, represent a significant front page SOV in drinks, with nearly 5 percent in 2010 among grocery retailers, MarketTrack says. In virtually all instances where private label was featured on the front page, the retailers promoted their products as an alternative to national brands, it says.

Across all summer holiday weeks, beer and beverage alcohol represent a smaller share of front page features, MarketTrack says. Beverage alcohol was featured most heavily in the week before Labor Day in 2010, representing 7.3 percent of front page SOV in 2010, higher than any other holiday, the research firm says. Beverage alcohol promotions showed the strongest week to week change for the week before Memorial Day vs. the week of Memorial Day, representing only 1.8 percent of front page SOV the week before vs. 3.4 percent the week of in 2010, it says. In 2009, beer represented 5.6 percent front page SOV during the week before July Fourth, dropping in 2010 to 2.9 percent front page SOV, MarketTrack reports.

Last year, 85 percent of consumers were influenced by store circulars, MarketTrack says. This was consistent with 2009, indicating that consumers’ mind-sets have not shifted significantly when it comes to seeking value, it says. In addition, 48 percent of consumers said if brands they use are featured in a store’s circular, it will prompt them to buy those items when on sale, and 39 percent of consumers will switch brands based on what’s on sale in the circular, MarketTrack says. The research firm also emphasized that manufacturers should continue to feature brands in store circulars to drive awareness and loyalty.