What Consumers Want From Functional Drinks🧉
Read consumers minds with these 5 insights about what drives their desires for functional drinks (according to 21+ pieces of research).
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We’ve spent weeks pouring over the latest consumer research about functional drinks. Here are the 5 things I learned about what the modern consumer is demanding from their beverages (that the industry really shouldn’t ignore).
In Today’s Email:
In The News: the risks of ignoring misinformation, Quorn’s B2B ingredient bet, Coca-Cola’s foray into fruit, and more.
Trending with Gen Z: a new way to eat brie 🧀
Innovation Deep Dive: consumer intelligence about functional drinks.
1. Functional Beverages: everyone’s thirsty.
2. Profile of a functional drinker: not just health conscious.
3 - 5. What Consumers Want from functional drinks:
7 key benefits consumers seek
6 trending ingredients
3 up and coming categories (including water!?)
📰 In The News
Our favorite F&B innovation stories from this week. Can be read in less than a 🧻 break.
Michael Wolf convincingly argues we need to account for risks posed by misinformation when forecasting the cultivated meat market.
Monde-Nissin’s Marlow Foods is to begin selling its Quorn products as ingredients for the industry to help grow the market for mycelium protein.
Coca-Cola is licensing out its brands to fresh fruit 🍋. In a first for Coca-Cola, the company signed an agreement with Frutura allowing them to use the Minute Maid and Simply Select brands on select grapes and citrus products in the US.
The playbook on marketing to Gen-Z: authentic influencers, playful indulgence, affordable healthy foods, and above all, being socially responsible.
Plant-based meat brand TiNDLE launches products in 350 Morrisons stores in the UK.
The company has also enlisted ChatGPT to help them tackle its branding challenge in the UK (consumers keep confusing it with dating app Tinder).
CEO of BrewDog USA, Jason Block, will soon be departing for pastures new. The announcement of his replacement is imminent.
📱Trending with Gen-Z
What social media is telling us about Gen-Z’s cravings! Can be enjoyed during an 🛗 ride.
Whipped Brie: Videos like this one of cheese anarchists whipping brie are taking over TikTok and look destined to spawn all manner of whipped food trends.
🧉 Innovation Deep Dive: Consumer Intelligence
Weekly deep dive into an F&B trend. Can be read in less than a 🚋 ride.
1. Functional Beverages: Everyone’s Thirsty
Functional beverages have traditionally been consumed by sports and fitness enthusiasts.
This group of consumers tends to have heightened awareness about the vitamin and nutrient content of what they put in their bodies. They consume with specific health goals in mind and often need specific quantities and combinations of vitamins and minerals to hit them.
But now, a broader range of consumers are seeking functional benefits in beverages to support their holistic health.
In recent years, consumers have become more aware and more interested in focussing on proactive health. Shoppers are more willing to pay premium prices for food and drinks that bring added functional benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic added an extra jolt to this trend, heightening consumer desire to protect themselves against health threats posed by age and the environment.
More and more consumers are using functional drinks to support different aspects of their health, and demand for these beverages is booming.
2. Profile of a Functional Drinker
Existing research paints a clear picture of the modern functional drinks consumer.
🏋️♀️ Take a proactive approach to a healthy lifestyle.
🧖🏻♂️ Tend to be affluent millennials who are willing to spend more on food and drink. They care a lot about maintaining their health, eating healthy, and leading a healthy lifestyle.
🌯 Scrutinize labels and research ingredients.
🎯 Aim for specific health goals when they consume their beverages.
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There are also other noteworthy profiles of functional beverage consumers. Diet consumers - people who follow specific diets like keto, low-carb, lactose-free, etc. - seek functional drinks as alternatives to products they can’t consume for dietary reasons. People interested in non-western forms of medicine and herbal remedies are also attracted to functional drinks.
Last but not least, casual consumers are developing an appetite for functional drinks. Flavor is still their top priority but, if that’s there, they may ditch their regular sugary, caffeine-packed energy drink for one with value-added functional benefits. Demand in this segment is interestingly being boosted by the sober curious movement through which consumers are increasingly being introduced to non and low-alcohol beverages fortified with functional beverages.
3 - 5. What Consumers Want From Functional Drinks
7 Benefits Consumers Seek
Consumers around the world prioritize the following 7 benefits according to research from the Kerry Group:
Skin (beauty support)
Digestive and gut health
These needs differ by region of course.
In North America, Australia, and South East Asia, cognitive health-related benefits are among consumers’ top 10 functional priorities. This is not so for European consumers who prioritize internal health, like heart and bones, and external health - hair and skin. Across nearly all regions, consumers prioritize Immune support and skin health - two key opportunity areas for functional beverages.
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6 Trending Ingredients
Consumers are looking for ingredients in functional drinks that have multiple benefits.
Take collagen as an example. Product launches containing collagen have risen by 19% over the last four years, and functional beverages containing the ingredient are much sought after in APAC. In addition to skin-boosting benefits, collagen also plays a role in healthy hair and strong bones.
Here are examples of other functional ingredients that are trending with consumers:
Apple Cider Vinegar - supports metabolic health, weight loss, and heart-health, etc.
Probiotics - digestive health, mental health, sports performance, etc.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Heart health, brain health, vision, etc.
Green Tea Extract - weight loss, heart health, etc.
Vitamin D - Immune support, bone health, mental health, etc.
Ginger - Digestive health, immunity support, menstrual support, etc.
3 Up and Coming Categories
Demand is growing across all drinks categories for products with functional benefits.
Simporter, an analytics company, identifies that consumer interest is shifting away from categories that traditionally add functional benefits to drinks like juices and teas. Instead, popular categories like soda, coffee, and water are seeing large spikes in demand.
The fastest-growing category of functional drink by user interest is soda. The category saw a 31% growth in online mentions in 2022. Coffee and then water are hot on soda’s heels though in terms of mentions from consumers online.
Consumers have high expectations for new breeds of these traditional drinks. Low sugar is a must, as are no artificial ingredients. Instead of these, consumers are attracted to micronutrients that bring enhanced sleep, focus, and skin clarity. Plant-based proteins and fibers are also sought-after additions to beverage ingredient lists.
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Hi Toby and GourmetPro team
To better understand the profile of a Functional Drinker mentioned in the article, could you please clarify if the pains referred to are specific to a particular region or are experienced worldwide?
Thank you for your comments.