What Consumers Want in a Healthy Beverage
When Innova asked consumers about their most important values associated with eating, “wellbeing” came out on top, with more than one in three citing this.1 This shows that healthy food and beverage choices that support wellbeing are not an afterthought but instead a real priority to many consumers.
Functional beverage brands have an advantage in addressing this desire for wellbeing due to their expertise in using ingredients to target specific aspects of physical and mental health. The key is in knowing which attributes, functional benefits, and even flavors will appeal the most to today’s consumers.
For consumers globally, the top two most important attributes in a healthy beverage or food are freshness (37%) and natural ingredients (32%), reports Innova.2 (For Boomers, these rates are higher, at 44% and 39%, respectively).3 These expectations indicate beverage brands should consider fresh and natural ingredients and messaging around these as foundational for developing a healthy beverage.
Top Functional Benefits
For functional benefits in a beverage or food, immune-boosting is the most desirable to consumers, at 37%, followed by improving gut health (30%) and heart health (26%).4 Immune and gut support are particularly important to Millennial and Gen Z consumers. These groups have the highest purchase rate of food and beverage products for immune-boosting (41% and 40%) and for gut health (30% and 29%).5
Q: Which functions a food or beverage might offer are the most desirable to you?6
- Boosting immunity (37%)
- Improving gut health (30%)
- Improving heart health (26%)
- Improving sleep (21%)
- Boosting mental focus and alertness (19%)
- Supporting brain health (15%)
In addition, consumers are becoming more interested in products that support brain health. Among global food and beverage launches in the past five years with an active health claim, 14% feature a brain health claim, with brain health claims growing at a CAGR of 12% during this time.7 Products that offer both physical and mental benefits for holistic wellness are one of the latest trends in functional beverages.
Mood Drink Trends
Beverages with mental or mood benefits continue to address important consumer needs in the post-pandemic period—one in four consumers has chosen foods or beverages to help their mood during the past 12 months.8 While formulating with the right mood ingredients (whether for energy, focus, or calming) is essential, choosing the right flavors may also be.