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According to the “Beverage Trends: Culinary Trend Mapping Report” from the San Francisco-based Center for Culinary Development and Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, the sweet spot in the U.S. beverage market, long dominated by a handful of major brand lines, is shifting to niche products that target a diverse set of consumer needs driven by healthy attributes.
Grocers should take note of several trends from the report, including the rise of retro beverages inspired by trendy cocktails making a comeback, as well as handcrafted, artisan beverages. Another focus for consumers will be health -- Packaged Facts refers to the trend as “Holistic Wellness.” These drink formulations draw on centuries of ancient wisdom, often based in Asia. Think kombucha, ayurvedic and aloe-based beverages, all of which promise functional health benefits of one kind or other.
At the middle stage of the trend map is coconut water, a refreshing and electrolyte-packed tropical treat. Thanks to recent advances in technology and packaging, coconut water has drifted from beachside to store shelf, where single-serve packages boast an impressive range of health benefits. Coconut water is a rich source of potassium, calcium and magnesium; has no fat or cholesterol; is relatively low in sugar; and purportedly can help regulate blood pressure and maintain heart health.
The market potential for on-trend new beverages remains significant, with diverse segments ranging from Gen Y teens to savvy Gen X parents and sporty boomers looking for what’s next in new healthful and premium drinks. “Because of this diversity in consumer demographics and psychographics,” emphasizes Kimberly Egan, CEO of the Center for Culinary Development, “the beverage market is an arena with plenty of room for growth and innovation.”
Packaged Facts recommends a change in marketing strategies, since the beverage landscape has changed as consumers have embraced new drink options. The success of innovative niche beverages leads to the challenge of creating a large-enough volume opportunity among the need states consumers are demanding. Suggestions include advising marketers to shift broad definitions, including to “Refreshment” or “Breakfast,” and recast categories to identify benefits, such as RTD drinks that are “Refreshingly Real” or breakfast OJ that’s a “Morning Energizer.”