According to Packaged Facts, a provider of market research to the food and beverage industry, the functional and natural ready-to-drink beverage market has been estimated at approximately US$23 billion, with energy drinks, ready-to-drink teas and sports drinks leading the way.
While the entire market is expected to show steady growth over the next few years in both developed and emerging markets, driven by global and regional consumer preferences, the most significant increases are predicted to take place in ready-to-drink teas, and health-conscious beverages.
Whether a bottler is looking to penetrate a new regional market or launch a new product in an existing one, understanding consumer trends is vital to success. Around the world, consumer tastes and preferences, as well as demand for specific formats or beverage benefits, may vary by region.
In addition, consumers leaning towards intuitive packaging and sustainable products can also be seen globally. To maximise the impact of a new beverage launch, bottlers must work with a trusted supply partner in order to keep their fingers on the pulse of the various trends impacting key target markets.
Health and Wellness
McKay Savage, Ontario, Canada
Aided by advances in healthcare, better access to medical care and an increased awareness of the benefits imparted by a more nutritious lifestyle, people around the world are living longer, healthier lives.
Health and wellness is a growing concern for many consumers of various ages all around the world, and this general trend is having an extreme effect on the beverage industry. Many consumers are actively seeking out beverages on market shelves that offer nutritional benefits. This includes beverages with all-natural ingredients, as well as those containing vitamins, or the ones low in calories and sugar.
For example, lemonades are growing in popularity due to their inherent health benefits. Pure lemons are not only high in antioxidants, but also aid digestion, and are rich in dietary fibre—all important factors for today’s savvy and health-conscious consumer.
This consumer predilection towards health and wellness is not limited to the mature North American and European markets. The recent health kick is also having a noticeable effect in markets across emerging economies that include Brazil, Africa, and Southeast Asia, driving sales of ready-to-drink teas and nutritious beverages.
In addition, drinks that provide an energy boost are growing in popularity, as are drinks that improve the quality of sleep. Ironically, the same consumers who are contributing to the current boom in energy drink and coffee sales are also seeking beverages to help them wind down.
Intuitive Packaging Design
In mature markets where store shelves are cluttered with competing products, packaging can be used as a critical communicator of the value delivered by a product or brand.
This is true for most consumer products, including beverages. When designing product packaging for the beverage market, it is important to keep in mind that it is the first thing a consumer sees, conveying the personality and benefits of a brand.
It requires a delicate balance of form and function, where packaging matches the brand promise, while also appealing aesthetically to the consumer. Products offering nutrition or sustainability can be packaged to illustrate these benefits. Certain images or ‘earthy’ colours are often associated with natural or wholesome concepts.
For example, brighter colours have been used for the packaging of some cola products, while subdued earth tones have been utilised for products containing all-natural ingredients that are aimed at the health and wellness market.
No longer just a regional trend, brand owners across the globe are being held accountable for the size of their carbon footprint. People are becoming more environmentally-conscious worldwide and they want to purchase products from like-minded companies. Knowledgeable consumers want to see companies demonstrate a concrete commitment to environmentally-sound practices.
Demanding full transparency, today’s consumers expect beverage manufacturers to take active measures to reduce waste and energy in their manufacturing operations, and throughout the supply chain. They want beverage manufacturers and bottlers to demonstrate a high level of social responsibility, helping the communities in which they live and work to thrive in a sustainable way.
In order to reduce the amount of materials introduced into the waste stream, savvy consumers are demanding that product packaging be made using renewable materials that are easily recyclable.
In some cases, they want to know that the original package itself has been made from already recycled materials. An interesting mini-trend is that of products with a literal ‘second life inside’. This means that rather than being discarded or recycled, these products can actually be planted and grown.
Consumers want results and are willing to show their approval—or disapproval—with their beverage purchases. In fact, according to a 2012 Cone Communications survey, 69 percent of respondents in the US said that they are more likely to buy from a brand that publicly communicates its corporate social responsibility (CSR) results, versus the 31 percent who would purchase from a brand that just talks about its CSR mission and purpose.
While it is smart business to stay ahead of global trends, it is equally important to look closely at regional trends specific to key markets.
Significant societal changes are taking place across emerging markets, such as Southeast Asia, which are already having a considerable effect on consumer spending power. A rapidly growing middle class is demanding more goods and services. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2013, the gross domestic product (GDP) of emerging markets will exceed advanced markets for the first time. This economic shift is also having a profound effect on consumer beverage preferences.
In Southeast Asia, sports drinks take centre stage, with the rising popularity of 100 percent juice, sports and diet beverages. However, it is important to remember that consumer preferences in the area are being driven by more than just growing health and nutritional awareness.
An on-the-go lifestyle in Southeast Asia has resulted in an increased demand for convenient products, such as instant coffees and ready-to-drink teas. These products are also increasing in popularity throughout other parts of Asia, including Thailand, Japan, Korea and Singapore, and are available in most supermarkets and convenience stores.
David Goehring, California, US
Packaging also plays an important role in differentiating beverage brands and products in Southeast Asia. Imported beverages are prized in the region and consumers are often looking for ‘westernised’ products. Finally, Southeast Asia is known as an extremely price-sensitive market. For example, plastic beverage packaging remains the preferred option throughout the region due to its lower cost of production and portability.
Now is an exciting time for beverage manufacturers looking to break into new markets. The global beverage market is large and diverse, varying from country to country and consumers in emerging markets have more disposable income than ever before.
However, in addition to increased spending power, today’s savvy consumers have a list of specific demands. Having a firm grasp of both global and regional trends that affect this ever-changing list is extremely important to achieving success in the beverage market.
Increased demand for functional health and wellness beverages, package design that clearly communicates product benefits, and sustainability across the supply chain are just a few current leading global trends. Local trends that vary from region to region, while similar to some of these global trends, include slight nuances such as flavour and package design that echo local culture.
The key to successfully competing in a saturated marketplace is working with a knowledgeable supply partner that can analyse trends and then help to leverage the information, by applying it to the next product launch. Products and services based on a strong understanding of specific global and regional drivers can help significantly drive sales across target markets and increase the beverage manufacturers’ bottom line.