While carbonated soft drinks generate more than $18 billion in sales per year, according to IRI, they continue to lose ground. Sales are down 1.2% in c-stores and flat in all other channels of retail. At the same time, this category is becoming more innovative with products such as Sparkling Ice taking hold and other brands mimicking it, including the new Mountain Dew Ice.

“They are copying the characteristics of water, saying, ‘You may be bored with your water; you can try me,’ ” says Vierhile of GlobalData.

Vierhile believes CSD innovation is veering in a more adult direction, with gourmet and craft products such as Stubborn Soda and Caleb’s Kola. As with beer, he says, consumers might be drinking less, but they’re drinking better.

Overall, Vierhile is seeing more CSD products with zero sugar, fruit flavors—such as PepsiCo’s 1893 lineup, which he calls “an adultification of the product”—and lightly flavored products. Ginger beers are also expanding the landscape, and some products are mirroring what’s happening in candy, with spicy and even salted caramel flavor profiles.


“Healthy bubbles is a top trend for 2018. Add some carbonation and chip away at carbonated-soft-drink sales.”
—Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for GlobalData