Conde Nast Traveler compiled its list of “The 51 Most Beautiful Places in the World.” The article, written by Caitlin Morton, highlights “awe-inspiring wonders” to influence travelers’ latest destinations. Although not designed to prompt vacation plans, experts note that beverage-makers need to seek out inspiration across all aspects of the shopping experience to develop merchandising sets that will help their products stand out from the crowd.

“When considering merchandising solutions for retail, operators should utilize multiple points of inspiration inside and outside of the store to drive packaged beverages sales,” says Carlton Austin, director of convenience retail strategy of the North America Operating Unit for The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta. “Incremental placements throughout the store, including permanent coolers and open-air cooler racks, are key to effectively capturing shoppers that may not have intended to purchase a beverage during their visit.”

Austin adds that brands can utilize opportunities to “interrupt” shopping trips in which consumers can leave with a beverage in hand.

“The more retail operators can suggest purchasing a beverage to accompany certain occasions, the more they can tap into shopper motivation,” Austin explains. “When shoppers associate certain beverages with specific occasions, such as meals, hydration, grab-and-go or a pick-me-up, they are more likely to consider adding a beverage to their purchase.”

The Coca-Cola Co. was able to tap into these motivations with its limited-edition launch of Coca-Cola Starlight and Coca-Cola Starlight Zero Sugar, which launched in February 2022 as part of its Coca-Cola Creations platform to drive engagement and cultural relevance with Gen Z.

“The product was launched with a 360-degree, integrated marketing campaign,” Austin says. “Starlight came to life in-store through eye-catching display options, including graphic wraps for barrel coolers as well as cooler crowns and accessories. To maximize the product on the shelf, Starlight was featured on suction cup shelves, motion shelf strips and counter caddies. Small-footprint shippers and in-aisle displays are used to bring brand focus, while over-vault wedges, frame clings and blinking light cooler door activators bring attention to the cold vault.”

This proved to be a success because as of July 2022, Starlight recorded $57 million in total year-to-date sales with approximately 50 million bottles and cans sold, Austin says citing Nielsen data for total U.S. AMC for the time period of Feb. 25 to May 28.

“About 70% of Starlight volume in convenience retail is incremental to SSDs, including 35% from new SSD consumers and 35% from expanded category consumption,” he says, citing Numerator data for March 26, 2022 to June 18, 2022.


Coca-Cola Starlight limited-edition launch
The Coca-Cola Co. used small-footprint shippers with its Coca-Cola Starlight limited-edition launch last year. Studies showed return interest for other Coca-Cola products following Starlight purchase.
Image courtesy of The Coca-Cola Co.


Austin adds that the Starlight “created a strong halo around the Coca-Cola brand,” noting that 78% of previous non-Coca-Cola consumers has since bought another Coca-Cola product after buying Starlight, based on AMC Starlight Purchaser Follow-Up – Phase 1 & 2.

Although physical merchandising sets is typically what comes to mind when brands are looking for ways to spotlight their products, the influence of digital is having a larger impact on merchandising.

“As shoppers increasingly go digital, bridging the physical and digital shopping experience with seamless integration is key to driving growth and success,” Austin says. “The acceleration and evolution of digital ordering allow retailers more opportunity and access to consumers even before they get into the store. The more operators can suggest purchasing a beverage to accompany certain occasions, the more they can tap into shopper motivation.”

Whether it be traditional or digital, beverage-makers have no shortage of influences to inspire the next great merchandising sets.