Beverage options in 2018 are expected to become even more specialized than they are this year. According to Laura Dembitzer, Imbibe Marketing Director, upcoming beverage trends will add to the current health and wellness craze, resulting in drinks that are low in sugar with added functional ingredients. Dembitzer also says the carbonated drinks will shift from traditional soda options to sparkling health beverages that are aesthetically pleasing on social media accounts.
Beverage manufacturers are noticing trends in the market that they can build upon. Specialized products with added nutrients, bubbles and social media-ready packaging are taking the internet by storm. In response, manufactures are increasing their social media presence and trying to engage with their consumers as much as they can. Knowing that brand presence on social media is a big seller in today’s market, manufacturers are now focusing on product packaging as a key trait to a successful marketing campaign. Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino is proof that a unique yet visually appealing product can increase in sales and popularity through social media shares.
Dembitzer also says that beverages with added functional ingredients are likely to attract more consumers. With the beverage market moving towards more healthier options, manufacturers can build on this trend by making their health products even more appealing through added ingredients like vitamins, minerals and protein. Adaptogens and botanicals such as ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) and lavender have grown in popularity this year and are expected to become even more favorable to consumers in 2018. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric is also growing in popularity as a beverage ingredient because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Protein fortified beverages are becoming a top seller in the drink category. As consumers are increasingly improving their lifestyles, protein-dense beverages are the perfect compliment to this trend. Dembitzer tells manufacturers to expect more beverage products like high-acid protein waters and protein infused teas, coffees and hot chocolate.
Though consumers are starting to drink fewer soda options, the carbonated trend is still growing in the beverage industry. People are now turning to carbonated waters and juices as better alternatives to traditional pop beverages. Perceived as “clean label” products, these sparkling beverages are usually low in sugar, calories and preservatives.
What manufacturers need to consider when producing these new products is their environmental and social impact. Consumers are well aware of the environmental impact of plastics in the ocean and third-world country issues. If companies recognize these issues and take steps to improve the world and reduce their carbon footprint consumers will take notice because many shoppers are now purchasing ethically sourced products that are not connected to environmental issues.
With a variety of healthy formulations to choose from, 2018 will be the year for specialized beverages. Manufacturers will need to formulate products that appeal to the growing niche markets. The next generation of beverage products will adhere to consumer diets (vegan, paleo or allergen free), functional needs (improved digestion, energy, stress relief or immunity) and personal values (recyclable, cage free or compostable).