Coca-Cola & Schweppes pumps $245m into U.K. marketing

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LONDON -- Coca-Cola and Schweppes Beverages plans to invest $245m into marketing in the U.K. during this year in an attempt to develop its brands, particularly in the face of competition from retailer private label.

The company, now owned by Coca-Cola Enterprises since its acquisition of Cadbury's 51% stake last summer, claims it was the only major soft drinks supplier to grow its market share in the U.K. in 1996, according to Nielsen figures. It attributes this rise - to 21% - largely to record levels of investment behind its brands.

Plans for this year include the launch of a new adults soft drink, Schweppes Sparkling, and a blackcurrant version of the Oasis adults soft drink. CCSB estimates that consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 will become an increasingly important market and will account for 20% of all soft drinks consumed in the year 2000.

Flavored carbonates such as Fanta, Dr Pepper, Sprite and Lilt will also enjoy more focused marketing support, to kick-start sales into achieving growth levels that mirror the success of colas in recent years, CCSB says.

Of the 50 million ready-to-drink-liters (RTDL) of cola volume sales growth in 1996, Nielsen reports that 32 million came from sales of Coca-Cola, which CCSB puts down to branding efforts - in particular the Euro '96 soccer sponsorship.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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