The beverage market is currently under scrutiny because of the association with excessive sugar intake. At the same time, consumers can often feel over-familiar with traditional flavors in the beverage sector, meaning that consumption occasions are not associated with excitement and sensory appeal. To counteract this, the beverage industry needs to look to push the boundaries of indulgence and experimentation via the introduction of new and exotic flavors
In many markets across the globe – particularly in developed westernized economies – the carbonate and juice categories are in a period of saturation and decline. This has primarily been driven by consumer concerns about the sugar content of beverages. In Q1 2019, FMCG Gurus surveyed 25,000 consumers across twenty-five different countries. As part of this research, consumers were asked what they prioritize when it comes to purchasing beverages, based on nine different product attributes. The product attribute that is most important to consumers is taste (23%), followed by natural formulation (18%). In comparison, sugar content was the sixth most important product attribute (8%). This shows that irrespective of any health concerns that consumers may have they prioritize taste and enjoyment when it comes to beverages.
This is something that creates new opportunities in the soft drinks industry when it comes to experimental and exotic flavors. Consumers are more demanding of the products that they purchase, even when it comes to low cost items, and want products that offer a genuine experience and push the boundaries of sensory appeal. Whilst consumers may enjoy traditional flavors such as cola and orange, the familiarity of such flavors is something that can lead to routine and inertia when it comes to beverage consumption occasions. Instead, brands should look to push the boundaries of experimentation in order to capture consumer attention. FMCG Gurus research for example shows that across the globe, 57% of consumers say that they like products with new and unusual flavors. Meanwhile, a total of 42% deem themselves to be adventurous when it comes to food and drink choice, whilst 72% say that they have become more experimental with their choice of food and drink in the last five years.
Experimentation when it comes to beverage flavors is related to consumers wanting to demonstrate their attitude and outlook on life via the products that they purchase. Indeed, consumers deem themselves to be liberal, adventurous and sophisticated and want the beverages they purchase to reflect this. This is something that will drive demand for exotic fruits and flavors from around the world that can be used as a focal point for conversation and habits such as uploading pictures onto social media sites.
The more brands push the boundaries of experimentation with new flavors, the greater the opportunity to target these adventurous consumers. Moreover, such experimental flavors can also be a keyway of helping overcome concerns about sugar content in beverages.