If you are anything like us, you usually have three drinks sitting in front of you: one for taste, one for function, and one for hydration. The beverage category is one of our favorites. Perhaps it’s the responsiveness and category innovation that makes it so fascinating to follow.
With consumers embracing new ingredients, nostalgic flavors, non-alcoholic options, and enhanced beverages, your brand can help ensure your beverage isn’t a fad but becomes a staple in the category.
Here are some of the trends we’re seeing, who’s doing it right, and how you can take advantage.
We’re witnessing more brands support the sober curious consumer. These consumers opt-in to a sober lifestyle for periods of time to help reduce the harmful effects of alcohol on the body. Think Dry January without a strict end date. Some people will abstain for a few months or reserve drinking for special occasions, while others remain alcohol-free five days a week.
In 2019, 65% of adults reported drinking alcoholic beverages. Adults who reported drinking alcoholic beverages in 2021 reduced 60%.
Notably, 82% of non-alcohol beer, wine, and spirits buyers also purchase alcohol-containing products. (NielsenIQ)
Nielsen reports that sales of non-alcoholic beverages increased by 33% totaling $331 million in 2021.
Furthermore, Internet searches for “non-alcoholic drinks” have increased by 45% in 5 years.
Breweries are tapping into non-alcoholic product innovations such as Hop Water with success. In fact, NielsenIQ reported a remarkable 173% growth in a 13-week period during the summer of 2023.
45% of consumers are interested in craft mocktails and CBD-infused drinks.
Great Product Innovation: Recess
Recess initially entered the functional beverage space with Adaptagen sparkling water. In 2023, Recess launched Zero Proof, a line of craft mocktails. The two-toned can design sets Zero Proof apart from Recess’ flagship products, embracing the spirit of ready-to-drink fun, minus the alcohol.
Flavor Nostalgia Ready-to-Drink (RTDs)
The rapid growth of the RTD category encouraged many beverage brands to explore the market with nostalgic flavors. From Spiked SunnyD to Hard Mountain Dew and TopoChico Hard Seltzer, parent companies are recognizing the value in RTDs, and reinventing childhood favorites for the adult beverage consumer.
While RTDs still only account for a small portion of total spirit volume (about 3% according to CNBC) ready-to-drink cocktails soared in popularity in 2020, growing 126% in one year according to Neilsen.
Fun Fact: TopoChico Hard Seltzer is Coca-Cola’s return to the alcoholic beverage industry after almost 40 years.
Brands to Know: Smooj
In 2020, Smooj cracked the can on a new beverage category — the hard smoothie. It combines the effervescence of a hard seltzer with the fruit-pureed goodness in kettle sours, and you get an indulgent flavor, reminiscent of summer, real-fruit smoothies and so much more.
95% of consumers are actively trying to make more sustainable choices in 2023. This trend continues into 2024, and breweries are taking an innovative approach to packaging to meet consumer expectations. Beer brands like SaltWater Brewing, Carlsberg, Upslope Brewing, and Corona are making significant efforts to reduce their carbon footprint through biodegradable packaging.
Fun Fact: A traditional glass bottle has an estimated carbon footprint of 675g CO2e/l, whereas a wine pouch boasts a reduced carbon footprint of only 96g CO2e/l.
Impacts on Beverage Branding
As a craft beer or RTD category challenger brand, you may wonder how to increase sales. The answer lies in your brand.
It starts with a thorough understanding of your audience. Get to know how, why, and when they interact with your product to develop a creative expression and messaging strategy.
Build an informative and scalable design to support current and future products.
Be consistent. A recognizable brand will outperform competitors in the grocery aisle. The trend of hyper-individualized packaging design creates a disjointed landscape for your brand, and is costly to reinvent the label with each line extension.
Brand Doing it Right: Griffin Claw Brewing Company
Celebrating 10 years of brewing craft beers, GCBC sought to increase sales through a rebrand. We helped develop the refreshed GCBC brand, creating consistency across their offerings, and a modifiable look and feel to support new product extensions.
We’ll work with you to determine the right language for your brand and make sure the creative expression resonates with consumers for increased sales. Learn more about our approach to consumer testing, or share your 2024 goals with us to see if a rebrand is right for you.