One trip to a supermarket, health food or convenience store will tell you all you need to know about the popularity and availability of so-called healthy beverages these days. And the trend is only likelier to get stronger.
More than 76 million Baby Boomers – many users of unhealthy products in the past – are now seeking out ways to increase their own vitality, according to a recent report commissioned by the Healthy Beverage Expo called “7 Key Changes the Beverage Industry Must Accept: The Future of Beverages.”
In it, they quote among others, Ian McLean, founder and creative director of McLean Design, responsible for work on brands such as Monster, Sunsweet, SoBe and Lipton. “The fear of their own mortality, and the reality of chronic health issues have pushed this demographic into finding healthy options to sustain themselves,” he says. Couple the Boomers with 51 million Millennials and you’ve got a lot of Americans demanding alternative beverage options now. “The young adults have grown up in a scary, poisonous, deceitful world where no product can be trusted. They can be held partly responsible for the uprising of healthy beverages,” says McLean, “because they represent the transparent future, where social media and rapid technological development reject falsities in marketing. Young adults maintain the healthy beverage market.”
Just one of seven conclusions about the immediate and medium-term changes to expect in packaged beverages, the report goes on to say about healthy beverages that manufacturers have seized on this segment of beverages as consumers have responded quickly, spearheaded by the boomers and young adult demographics. “By embracing innovation, manufacturers and brand holders have an array of imaginative possibilities in producing new beverages while consumers are no longer tied to a few unbecoming options.”
Trends like these are hard to ignore. At the recent VIBE conference (co-located with Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show), Joe Tripodi, executive vice president and chief marketing & commercial officer of the Coca-Cola Company, pointed out how the giant soft drink maker was dealing with this among other changes in consumer preference and attitudes. In Europe, changes have already been made - Reuters reported in May of 2012 that the European beverage market, specifically that of France, is determined to lessen the amount of sugars found in popular beverages, and that the recipes of Sprite and Nestea, both Coke products, were altered to contain 30 percent less sugar.
That sort of change in consumer preferences can be expected here, and not slowly – just as certain political parties found themselves recently on the wrong side of an apparent demographic tipping point, the changes to on-premise behavior from both young and old consumers might be swift and determined, with the winners being those operations that are willing to craft their ways to satisfy their customers rather than their accountants. Healthy beverages suggests many meanings, and all of them mean change.