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Opportunities and Risks in the Functional Beverage Market

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  • 114 Pages
  • October 2021
  • Region: Global
  • Policy2050
  • ID: 5514955

Functional Claims Are Now Widespread Across Brand and Product Portfolios.

This report addresses the new context for beverage products globally. As multinational consumer goods companies internally review their portfolios of brands and products to achieve financial goals and resilience during and after the pandemic, they will increasingly look at “health/wellness” and “functional” claims as potential growth drivers.

An understanding of the global market trajectory of functional beverages could prove immensely valuable, even for companies in other CPG categories and for retailers scrutinizing consumer trends.

In the 21st century, the beverage industry has been testing out new products and approaches. Instead of moving large volumes of proprietary syrups and sugary water, the industry has been trying to:

  • Sell beverages with a purported healthy or “functional” benefit, often in smaller pack sizes and with premium pricing.
  • Substitute known flavors and brands with products that could be characterized as “less unhealthy.”
  • Churn its portfolio regularly and ruthlessly, in order to capitalize on high growth trends, get out at the outset of a sales decline, and jump to the next trend, meeting the consumer wherever they are, both in terms of trends and channel.

Arguably, all of these maneuvers are aligning the beverage industry closer with public health, but at the very least, the industry is becoming more closely aligned with the ever-changing interests of the consumer.

If consumers are sincere in their expressions of wanting to live healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, then the massive non-alcoholic beverage market, which could be worth $1.60 trillion by 2025, will continue to produce more variety as well as ripple effects globally.

This is a big opportunity. It requires best practices, careful analysis, and long-term vision.

The report shows how some counterintuitive approaches are actually supported by data, and how the timing is perfect for an industry reorientation around public health.

It analyzes the statements and activities of many beverage industry executives in the United States while also applying a global lens to functional beverages, drawing upon strategic examples from around the world. All in a quest to answer the following: What are the most compelling opportunities? What are the greatest risks, and how can these risks be mitigated?

In highly diversified brand and product portfolios, functional beverages have become the most important category, so much so that it’s hard to define the category. Functional claims are now associated with nearly every type of beverage, new and old.

This report contains approximately 30,000 words of qualitative and quantitative insights, structured as follows:

  • Executive Summary: Relevant and actionable insights are presented upfront.
  • The Category Opportunities section: Here, the report highlights new, evolving beverage categories and companies. It opens with a massive opportunity that has, thus far, been mostly overlooked. This section delivers intelligence that could potentially be used to outperform competitors. Many of the ideas contained within this report are easily extractable for the purposes of presentations.
  • The Risks section: Here, market dynamics are analyzed in-depth. Significant financial and legal risks are given the appropriate amount of consideration. Pandemic disruptions are assessed, and a wide-ranging list of functional beverage category risks is provided. Beverage companies can easily refer to this section for any internal SWOT analysis.

This report will provide comprehensive answers to the following key questions:

  • How can multinational beverage companies factor in public health and sustainability concerns while pursuing category creation in the form of at-home/functional beverage machines? What are the pros and cons of this white space?
  • How can multinational beverage companies and startups alike shift the unique value proposition of certain beverage categories from energy to relaxation, and from indulgence to lifestyle alignment?
  • How might the pandemic act as a driver of beverage innovations, such as the powdered category, probiotics/prebiotics, and sugar-free options?
  • What specific qualitative and quantitative insights might be relevant to a beverage company attempting to export the Asian beauty drinks category to the Western market? What are the precedents in water categories?
  • What are the pandemic-related risks that could interfere with functional beverage manufacturing, marketing, and distribution?
  • How can beverage startups most effectively gain market share?
  • How should beverage brands support their functional product claims and respond to public criticisms or controversies?

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
1.1 Key Benefits of this Report
1.2 Target Audience
1.3 Companies Mentioned in this Report
1.4 Methodology
2. Executive Summary
2.1 Innovations and opportunities
2.2 Risks, related to COVID-19
2.3 Other Risks
3. What are the Opportunities?
3.1 At-home functional beverage machines
3.1.1 The Precedents in Coffee Systems
3.1.2 Water/Sustainability Considerations
3.1.3 Strong Tailwinds
3.1.4 Category Creation
3.1.5 Previous/Imminent Attempts
3.2 Calming beverages, during this time of record high anxiety
3.3 Wheatgrass and plant-based beverage powders, for stockpiled nutrition
3.3.1 Pandemic behaviors
3.3.2 Wheatgrass
3.4 Sugar-free beverages
3.4.1 Supply chains and distribution
3.4.2 Demand
3.5 Probiotic beverages
3.5.1 Market data
3.5.2 The gut-brain connection
3.5.3 Probiotics, or prebiotics?
3.6 Expanding beauty drinks out of Asia
3.6.1 The Opportunity
3.6.2 International Expansion
3.6.3 Best Practices in the United States
4. What are the Risks?
4.1 Sampling is on pause
4.2 Functional beverage claims could lead to lawsuits
4.2.1 The right stuff, in the right amounts
4.2.2 Different criticisms and agendas
4.2.3 Examples
4.2.4 Strengthening functional beverage claims
4.2.5 Industry perspectives
4.2.6 Infographic: Functional Beverage Claims
4.3 Overseas manufacturers don’t always get it right
4.4 Gyms are a particularly threatened distribution channel
4.5 The restaurant industry hasn’t fully recovered yet
4.6 It isn’t easy for smaller companies to distribute their products
4.6.1 Industry perspectives
4.7 Bad timing when launching a new product/new category (being too early or too late)
4.7.1 Industry perspectives
4.8 Raising large sums of money but not being capital efficient
4.8.1 Psychological factors
4.8.2 Adhering to strategic planning
4.8.3 Industry perspectives
4.9 PR challenges will continue
4.9.1 COVID-19 connections
4.9.2 Responding to the obesity epidemic
4.9.3 Risks of overstating
4.9.4 Gender marketing, and the Dr Pepper TEN example
4.9.5 Recent criticisms of industry PR + technological factors

Companies Mentioned (Partial List)

A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes, but is not limited to:

  • Keurig Dr Pepper
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • PepsiCo
  • Danone
  • Nestlé
  • Red Bull
  • Glanbia
  • Suntory
  • Karma Water/Karma Culture
  • Hint
  • SPI West Port
  • Super Coffee
  • Zenify/Phi Drinks
  • Moment
  • O2 Active Recovery
  • Olipop
  • Molson Coors
  • Diageo