CHICAGO -- A new service from Google offers a look at digital trends as they apply to consumer attitudes about products and services, as well as early insight into products types that could be hot in convenience stores and other channels of retail in the near future.
According to the technology giant’s 2017 Beverage Trend Report, today’s hottest fads have either steadily grown over recent years or are seasonal ones that have come back stronger than before. And in the case of c-stores, there's still opportunity for them to trickle down to the channel.
By compiling top web searches and gaining insight into consumer behavior, Google trendspotting project leads Olivier Zimmer and Yarden Horwitz aim to help marketers, researchers, developers, foodies and retailers understand their global audiences and the trends that resonate with them.
Here’s what they found in regard to packaged beverages …
1. Cold brew: Trust the process
The report noted a heightened interest in beverages that are known for the unique processes in which they are crafted. In the United States, cold-brew drinks are the top trending process-led beverage, edging out raw and infused options. The cold-brew process involves brewing a beverage using room temperature or cold water; it often requires a day or two to prepare.
Recent increased consumption has resulted from cold brew’s flavor-related benefits, including reduced acidity and bitterness and enhanced sweetness. Despite trending for years, cold-brew beverages reached a turning point in the United States in 2015, which saw a 158% year-over-year search growth, according to the report. Although cold brewing has reached mainstream success, consumers still see it as a process that elevates their beverage-drinking experience.
2. Matcha: Earthy flavors are here to stay
Zimmer and Horwitz found that plant-based ingredients in a wide-variety of beverages are in demand. Ingredients such as matcha, ginger, turmeric and kombucha are among the top-searched earthy flavors by market in the United States.
The report notes ginger’s unique combination of citrus, soapy and musty flavors and warming taste as a reason for its increased interest. Demand for ginger-flavored beverages recently became most popular in U.S. markets and is currently growing as a sustained seasonal riser with similar year-over-year growth rates, according to the report.
Matcha—which is popular in lattes and a variety of desserts—became popular in the United States in 2015 with 202% year-over-year search growth. The report states the rich flavor and antioxidant-heavy aspects are reasons for matcha’s increased consumption.
3. Water: Premium is king
The Google data finds that growth in water is driven by interest in a quality hydration experience. Essentially, consumers are enjoying the cleanest and most accessible H2O available, which is expressed through increased demand for more premium options, such as alkaline, sparkling and tonic water. These options can also elevate the water-drinking experience, as many consumers value the process in which the beverage was made. Alkaline, for instance, may be trending due to its higher pH level compared to tap water, and is most popular among U.S. markets. The report highlights the fact that even a beverage as simple as water can offer a multitude of exciting benefits, including taste and indulgence.