Future of Hydration

Future of Hydration

For hydration, consumers aren’t just reaching for sports drinks anymore. See which beverage categories they’re looking to—and explore the four new need states for hydration products.


  • Consumers seek hydration from multiple functional beverage segments.
  • This creates an opportunity for development and messaging around hydration in these segments.
  • Product positioning can be fine-tuned by considering the four hydration need states.

The Hydration Market Today 

When we think of beverages designed to meet consumers’ hydration needs, we may think of sports drinks—but that’s only part of the story. FMCG Gurus reports that “to satisfy thirst” is the most common reason global consumers choose beverages, followed by providing an energy boost.1 

Q: Why do you consume the following beverages?

Protein drinksEnergy drinksFunctional juice/waterVitamin ready-to-mix powder
It is a drink that is healthy (54%)For an energy boost (66%)It is a drink that is healthy (56%)It is a drink that is healthy (56%)
To satisfy thirst (51%)It is a drink that is healthy (55%)To satisfy thirst (54%)To satisfy thirst (51%)
For an energy boost (49%)To satisfy thirst (49%)For an energy boost (48%)It is a drink that is “less bad” for me (48%)
Source: FMCG Gurus, Soft Drinks Global Survey, February 2024

That means functional beverage companies may have a lot more opportunities than they realize for targeting consumers’ hydration needs. While the global sports drink market is $29 billion, adding in the energy drink ($97 billion), sports protein drink/meal replacement ($10 billion), and functional water ($16 billion), segments significantly expands the “hydration market” within the functional beverage category.2 In fact, these segments combined make up half the global functional beverage market.3 

What Consumers Want in Functional Beverages

Mintel asked US consumers about their functional beverage consumption and found energy drinks lead functional beverages penetration with 36% of consumers having purchased one or more in the last year.4 When asked which benefit claims were most desirable to US consumers, “hydration/rehydration” was the most cited at 26%.5 “Brain health” (21%), “improving sleep” (21%), and “improving heart health” (21%) were the next most popular benefit claims in the foods or beverages they chose.6

Need for Hydration Products

Hydration is clearly a significant driver for consuming functional beverages. However, in studying the hydration landscape, we’ve noticed some differences in the way consumers might be aiming to achieve hydration. From these different motivations, we’ve created a framework that brands can use to more precisely target their hydration messaging and product benefits.


Some consumers view hydration in terms of its restorative properties. In the tradition of using liquids to help cure an illness, hydration to restore emphasizes the importance of water for a healthy functioning body, particularly the immune system. Product ingredients could include vitamin C and zinc or other immune support ingredients. This includes recovery in the post-workout period to replenish water and electrolytes lost during physical activity.


Hydration for optimization represents a shift away from rehydration needs and toward a more proactive approach. Electrolytes remain important to support sports performance. Hydration above the line is also about balancing daily water intake requirements and its influence on health and wellbeing. 

One emerging area of proactive hydration is the connection between hydration and beauty. The beauty-from-within strategy always includes hydration. Those with the hydration need state of beauty are after healthy, vibrant skin and other visible signs of wellbeing that come from being well-hydrated. Product solutions should be clean label and might include ingredients such as collagen and antioxidants for additional support.

woman drinking beverage

Your Partner in Functional Beverages

At Glanbia Nutritionals, we have the functional beverage solutions you need to meet your consumers’ needs—now and in the future—including custom premixes to deliver the right blend of benefits and flavors that can bring your new products to life!


1. FMCG Gurus, Soft Drinks Global Report, February 2024.

2-3. Global Data, January 2024. Data ending 2023.

4-6. Innova Market Insights, Fueling the Future: Exploring Next Generation Opportunities in Sports & Energy Drinks, December 2023. 

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