Today’s consumers are increasingly aware of the components in their favorite beverages, paying special attention to those that are deemed unhealthy, such as excessive sugar content and artificial ingredients, as well as some energy-boosting substances.
Health: The Topmost Consideration
Consumers are re-evaluating their diets as they seek to improve their health, a movement that began before the pandemic and has grown in its aftermath. This is an issue that the beverage industry is addressing slowly by reformulating products so that businesses can represent their products as guilt-free and nutritionally convenient. This can help make beverage categories appear more premium in some cases, reinvigorating categories that are sometimes associated with routine and inertia.
From an ingredient standpoint, beverage companies are taking a two-pronged approach to formulation. To begin, the focus is on green and clean formulation, with customers preferring actual and authentic components, such as natural flavors, sweeteners, and energy sources over artificial alternatives. Second, customers want functional ingredients that they connect with and that provide a quick health boost, such as additional minerals and nutrients, pre- and probiotics, energy boosters, and botanicals that improve mood or help relaxation. As the focus in a post-pandemic culture remains on enhancing wellness, marketers are working on reformulation to assist modernize product categories.
Top of mind is health and wellness
Although consumers were concerned about their health prior to the pandemic, attitudes toward diet have shifted significantly in the last year as consumers seek to reduce their risk of disease and illness. According to a survey in 2021, 76 percent of customers intend to eat and drink more healthily in the coming year. Sixty percent of these customers say they want to cut back on sugar, but only 6% say they want to cut back on fizzy beverages. While just a tiny fraction of consumers have chosen soft drinks as a sector in which they want to cut back, those wanting to limit sugar intake in general will have an influence on the industry.
Consumers have also expressed a wish to reduce their consumption of some soft drink categories. According to a 2019 survey, consumers are already looking to limit their consumption of carbonates, juice, and energy drinks. The truth is that health issues will continue to affect specific beverage categories for the foreseeable future. The carbonated soft drinks sector must therefore concentrate on better product formulation, aiming to reduce the use of “bad” substances in goods while increasing the use of “good” ingredients in line with current trends.
According to Reports and Data, the carbonated soft drinks market size which was USD 221.8 billion in 2020 is expected to register 4.9% CAGR over the forecast period. But consumers are more label-conscious than ever, according to research conducted in 2021; 63 percent of global consumers claim they have paid more attention to product labels in the last 12 months. When asked why, the main reason provided was increased health concerns as a result of COVID-19. Simpler and more identifiable components will attract these health-conscious shoppers as consumers pay more attention to both the length and content of ingredient cards.
Thirst for Natural
Consumers place a high value on “natural” formulation, with 70% reporting they have grown more aware of natural ingredient claims in the recent year. Nearly 74 percent believe it is critical that food and drink products be 100 percent natural, with 53 percent believing it is critical that soft drinks be 100 percent natural. Furthermore, more than half of customers express concern about hidden components in products. This is especially relevant in the soft drink sector, where complicated labelling has been used to conceal contents. This will increase demand for green and clean products, especially as other promises like plant-based, vegan-friendly, additive-free, and minimally processed products appeal to a large number of people. Wherever possible, soft drink companies are trying to simplify ingredients and emphasize the use of true, authentic components. Of course, it is critical that the usage of any natural elements does not detract from the sensory appeal of the product.
While appealing to consumers based on what a beverage lacks is a key tactic, beverage companies are emphasizing the usage of functional ingredients in their drinks to position them as handy and nutritious. COVID-19 has caused 47 percent of worldwide consumers to seek out beverages that improve their immune health. Meanwhile, a year ago, a study indicated that 56% of individuals were looking into different substances that could help them improve their health. This means that active ingredient claims will appeal to health-conscious consumers, particularly because the convenient format of many beverages will be perceived as optimal for improving wellness. Vitamin C, protein, probiotics, and omega-3 fatty acids are among the components consumers associate with improving their immune system. Such ingredient claims, whether natural or fortified, will appeal to a wide range of beverage categories. Coffees, teas, and sparkling waters, to mention a few, have all benefited from this potential to help rejuvenate product categories.
To provide maximum openness surrounding any health claims made, consumers demand that brands must include information about their ingredients—both those that their product contains and those that it does not. Better-for-you soft drinks with functional ingredients, no artificial colors or flavors, and a low sugar content will continue to be popular, and as the number of options grows, so will customer scrutiny.