Following the peak summer season, Christmas and New Year is viewed by the soft drinks industry as an opportunity to make big sales. Moreover, soft drinks companies get a further boost after Christmas as consumers, feeling guilty over the excesses of the festive season, put health-related regimes - including drinking healthily - high on their list of New Year resolutions. Annette Sessions reports.

It's not long ago that the word 'detox' was associated with the ghastliness of weaning addicts off hard drug habits. Now, it has joined the lexicography of the health conscious and the soft drinks manufacturers have grasped its functional potential. None more so than the smoothie makers.

Aimed at the partygoer wallowing in the guilty aftermath of over-indulgence, Daily Detox was first launched in 250ml bottles by PJ Smoothies in December 2002. In less than 12 months, with value sales having reached £699,922, it has become PJ's biggest selling SuperSmoothie.

Harry Cragoe, PJ founder, commented: "We knew that consumers bought smoothies as a healthy alternative to many sugar-laden fizzy drinks, so there were already strong health values attached to them. With the growth of functional foods and drinks and the increasing need for convenience and health on the go by the UK consumer, it had opened up a brand opportunity. Daily Detox seemed to answer consumers' need for something to complement the hectic and not-so-healthy lifestyles we can all slip into - even with the best intentions in the world! Functionality used to be seen as medicinal but consumers are now being offered drinks which taste great, add value to their diet and nutrition, and meet their busy lifestyles."

The drink is a blend of mandarins, bananas and dragonfruits enriched with Milkthistle and natural ginger. Such has been its popularity that PJ has since introduced a one-litre size and reinvigorated the drink this winter, marketing it as an 'astonishingly good' Daily Detox. Milk Thistle is viewed by PJs as the hot new ingredient on the lips of detox devotees due to its ability to halt the flow of toxins to the liver.

Rival in the smoothie category, Innocent Drinks has also produced a detox variant, born, says the company, out of strong consumer demand. This comprises lemons, vitamin C, honey for natural antioxidants and energy and ginger to cleanse, purify and aid digestion. Innocent reports that the "detox smoothies seem to be going down a storm. Over 400 stockists signed up in the first three weeks and volume/sales figures look pretty promising."

For its part, The Waterfront Corporation has just launched a functional new fruit juice drink simply called d:tox. Here red grape, cranberry and blueberry fruit juices are blended with nettle and elderflower extracts and lemon grass, camomile and rose oils. Managing Director John Clark describes it as an "excellent pick-me-up to combat feelings of tiredness or being slightly under the weather."

Bottled water brands also capitalise at this time of year on consumers'over-indulgence. Last year, Highland Spring Natural Mineral Water, with an advertising strapline, "For When You've Overdone it…", focused on the importance of rehydration to beat the morning after blues.

"This year, the brand is urging consumers to drink more water in the countdown to Christmas, in other words to 'pre-tox'."
This year, the brand is urging consumers to drink more water in the countdown to Christmas, in other words to 'pre-tox'. It says natural mineral water is the perfect pre-toxer, cleansing the body of toxins which build up over the festive season. By drinking plenty of water before and during Christmas and New Year people can keep their bodies in shape, reducing the need for drastic de-toxing in January. According to Highland Spring, a recent NOP survey revealed 68% of people had not considered pre-toxing even though 75% of people binge-drink over Christmas.

Elsewhere, Vittel Natural Mineral Water is urging us to kick-start the New Year with a positive attitude to "ditch the sofa, shape-up and get active" as part of its 'ReVittelised' campaign. It is reminding us all that Vittel Mineral Water is a natural way of maintaining and restoring our vitality. (Apparently to discover what our personal fluid intake should be we must visit And Ian Hall, General Manager of Spadel UK, has been advising retailers to make the most of the festive season. "Bottled water has never been more popular - or lucrative for the independent retailer - with total sales last year reaching £1 billion."

Meanwhile, the water energy drink, Lucozade Sport Hydro Active, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, is embarking on a New Year campaign to support consumers who make health-related New Year resolutions but then give up due to lack of willpower or encouragement. The campaign's strapline is "Resolution No.1 Start Drinking! Get into a good habit when you exercise." Posters will appear in gyms nationwide along with "Water. Plus" TV advertising. The company maintains that after a month of excess, the New Year is an ideal opportunity for the brand to win over those consumers who decide to get fit. The £1.5m campaign is to run from January through to March.