CONCORD, N.C. — The time to offer healthy beverages has arrived. Sixty-two percent of U.S. consumers said they want to see more “natural” beverages on menus and at retailers, according to a new report, How to Deliver a Better Beverage Experience, by coffee and tea manufacturer S&D Coffee & Tea.
The report explores how operators can integrate new beverage trends into their business to satisfy customers and drive profitability. Beyond that, the study also provides tips on how to build a beverage program that delivers an authentic experience to consumers.
“Consumers, especially younger generations, are seeking a better beverage experience with high-quality, real ingredients,” S&D said. “Meeting these new consumer demands can drive beverage opportunities across dayparts, increase price points and profits and grow customer loyalty—all while boosting your bottom line.”
Here are four ways to deliver a better beverage experience, according to Concord, N.C.-based S&D …
Make it authentic and functional
Natural and organic beverages have driven 40% of sales in the beverage industry since 2017, according to the study. Moreover, consumers are 52% more likely to purchase antioxidant-rich beverages. Gen Z and millennial consumers are especially moving toward better-quality beverages, because they value drinks that are made with healthy, honest ingredients. Expect this attitude to grow, S&D said.
“Today’s consumers are seeking healthy, functional beverage options that match their lifestyles,” the company said. “That’s igniting a new trend toward functional beverages.”
Offer specialty coffee
Cold coffee—such as iced, frozen, nitro and cold-brew coffee—is expected to increase by nearly 80% by 2021, according to S&D. Specifically, cold-brew coffee is projected to grow 19 times faster than the entire beverage category through 2021, the study said.
“It’s time to change how you think about coffee,” S&D said. “Today’s consumers have high expectations when it comes to their favorite caffeinated beverage.”
Craft soda is in
Menu mentions of craft soda have increased by 10% during the past year and by 40% over the past four years, according to the study.
Combined with decreased consumption in traditional soda—this category reached a 31-year low in 2016, according to S&D—craft soda offers an opportunity to differentiate from the crowd. Many of these options include sparkling beverages made with fresh, real ingredients such as fruit, herbs and spices. Pomegranate, grapefruit and pear are among the most popular craft-soda flavors, S&D said.
Tell a story
Linking healthy, innovative beverages to your brand story can also help differentiate from competition. This especially applies to sustainably sourced drinks, because environmentally friendly habits are driving consumer purchase decisions, S&D said. This can be done through new menu claims and product labels or digital storytelling and social media.
“Using storytelling to humanize your brand will attract consumers that value transparency and authenticity,” S&D said. “Providing fresh, natural and real beverages carries a health halo with your customers who believe in and care about functional health benefits.”