Taste is Leading Consumer Indicator for Beverages

The rise of lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity have created a growing concern for parents and everyone at large to move to beverages that offer more benefits. This migration is what has come to be known as the better-for-you alternatives. It is the direction that the non-alcoholic beverage companies are moving with 90% of the new products they bring to market. However, taste still plays a major role in new product development of healthy alternatives.

Taste + Health = Top Beverages

After recent research by Mintel, it is clear that most people’s choice in non-alcoholic beverages is still primarily driven by taste. The percentage of individuals that prioritize taste above all else stands at a staggering 72% while health or nutritional benefits follow by a far cry at 21%.  The least influential factor for consumer preference according to the study happens to be functional benefits at 12%.

The same research shows that there was a stagnant or decline in sales between 2014-2015 and the saddest part of the story is that this trajectory is synonymous with the findings of the research. Carbonated soft drinks had a 0.1 percent growth, and juices grew by the same margin. The largest hits, however, were dairy milk that fell by 7 percent. On the other hand, beverages like coffee had an 8.7 percent growth and energy drinks had an 8.9 percent growth.

In the report, Mintel indicated that consumer preference was quickly changing and the numbers that stood at 66% for juice drinkers, 64% of carbonated soft drink drinkers and the same for dairy products would soon shift. This was as a result of the more than half of the Americans (67% to be precise) were often buying different or new style beverages. Another 18% indicated that they drink a vast variety of drinks. This goes to suggest that the scope of the non-alcoholic beverage industry is rapidly changing.

There is no doubt that the beverage market is doing all it can to meet the consumer’s need for healthier options. However, flavor and taste are still a big part of why customers prefer different drinks. If the taste is not great, then there is no doubt that the consumers will not even touch it. One of the beverage analysts at Mintel went ahead to state that the vast diversity of products that were available in the market made it much easier for consumers to move on to the next one.

It is true that the better-for-you movement is reshaping the industry, and the sales trends are proving this. However, brands will still have to consider factoring in the flavor factor which is primary as well as function and health.

The Future of Beverages

There has also been an emergence of cross-category beverages that has led to the development of new drinks. They add to consumer preference confusion and makes it also challenging for brands that would like to keep their new customers without polarizing those that have not yet made up their minds.

These varieties continue to diversify the options with 40% of customers being encouraged to purchase a new beverage as long as there is a sample in the store that they could try. The playing field is quite open, and the one brand that can incorporate great taste and health is more than likely going to take over the market.

Inspired by mintel.com