The Changing Beverage Landscape

The beverage industry is far from static. New tastes, textures and trends continually reshape the market as consumers demand longtime favorites and new sensations in equal measure — all with healthy lifestyle benefits, of course.

Here are some key lessons we’ve learned over the past two decades:

  • Don’t innovate just to innovate. Create new or reformulated products that fall into an added-benefit category, such as adding antioxidants in a nod toward better health.
  • Plant-based is here to stay. Drinkers of plant-based beverages increased by 29% between 2013 and 2016, and the category is continuing to grow.
  • Tell the story. Consumers want to know what’s in their beverages, where those ingredients came from and why they should want to try, or return to, a given product.
  • One thing that’ll never change: If it doesn’t taste good, it won’t sell.

To meet these and other industry trends, as well as set the consumer narrative, beverage manufacturers are aligning products to four primary flavor categories:

  • Healthy and natural (functional, assumed health benefits)
  • Personable and memorable (fun and adventurous, nostalgic, experiential)
  • Artisanal and craft (local, sustainable)
  • Exciting and intense (sensational taste/texture, just for adults)

As we look to the future, this translates to innovation around three primary flavor drivers:

  • Tropical & Exotic: Unique fruity, citrus and tropical flavor profiles help differentiate product lines and catch consumer curiosity
  • Herbal & Botanical: With better-for-you interest on the rise, consumers are looking for flavors that exemplify natural, refined and functional connotations
  • Adventurous & Complex: Capture the Millennial and Gen Z markets with products seen as unique and exclusive to drive a “must try” mindset and instill a lasting impression

Flexibility will be key for future brand success. By exploring new beverage occasions, and then creating a unique taste, manufacturers will be well positioned to meet consumers’ individual lifestyle needs. New products that give consumers value and a “why to buy” brand story will build interest and loyalty across multiple generations.

Sensient Flavors & Extracts can help you get there. Partner with our expert flavorists and explore how our beverage technologies can improve taste and texture and elevate the overall product experience. Let’s be taste buds! Contact us to find out more.