Innovations in the soft drinks segment

Published on 17 September 2018 Read 25 min

ALCIMED, a consulting company specialised in innovation and the development of new businesses, is looking at the revival of innovation in the soft drinks sector.

Driven by both major brands and start-ups, the soft drinks segment is experiencing a strong growth through organic, health and connectivity innovation trends.

The organic trend is growing in the beverage segment, reflecting the consumer’s search for naturalness

As observed in other sectors, the organic trend is now taking shape in the beverage sector. The organic label makes it possible to meet the needs of consumers who are looking for a natural and clean label for their products. While organic fruit juices have been on the shelves in supermarkets for several years, brands are now expanding their organic beverage offerings to other segments. For example, Coca-Cola is now offering the Honest Tea range (fruit infused drinks), as well as “organic” teas, made from organically farmed ingredients. Similarly, Danone is evolving in the same direction by announcing, in the beginning of 2018, a massive organic plan for its flagship brands in the water sector, with the aim of making them a pillar of its growth.

New functional beverages respond to changes in eating habits and showcase health benefits

Functional beverages are a growing segment that aims to adapt to trends related to new eating habits. One example of modernization can be observed in the field of “meal replacement” nutritional drinks. While still aiming to cover all consumer nutritional needs of a single meal (such as Slim Fast launched in the 1980s), the new offers from Feed and So Shape innovate by offering nomadic formats adapted to the lifestyle of active people. They also differentiate themselves with arguments such as the absence of GMOs, gluten and preservatives, or even opt for a vegan positioning. Innovations can also be spotted in the breakfast segment, with new “all-in-one” drinks providing all the necessary vitamins and fibres. For example, the start-up Soylent offers a complete breakfast and coffee formula that fits in a single bottle. Yet another observed strategy, often launched by start-ups, involves adopting a ‘healthy’ positioning by enriching products in “superfruits”, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, etc. Thanks to the integration of these “super-ingredients”, a set of benefits are highlighted, such as the body detoxification effect, increasing energy levels, strengthening the immune system, etc. Unflavoured waters are also evolving towards a healthy positioning, by offering water that is not only of high quality because it is free of any contaminants due to the use of complex filtration processes, but also marketed as contributing positively to metabolic functions, via alkalinization or ozonation.

Water revitalization through connected systems

As is the case in many other sectors, the new offers in the water-related market often include a connectivity aspect. Miniaturization now makes it possible to integrate a set of sensors both into home systems (taps, water fountains…) and on water bottles or other portable objects. As a result, efficient and personalised hydration services can be developed which can open up new perspectives in the relationship between water manufacturers and consumers.


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