Beverage Social Media Listening
Listening Dates: January 1, 2018 – March 31, 2018
Overview of Current Trends
When focusing on social media content generated by news articles, brands, and Beverage trendsetters, products that deliver innovative flavor combinations or health-conscious beverages are on target.
Starbucks New & Relaunched Flavors
Starbucks had a busy 1st quarter, releasing (and re-releasing) four hot, new trending items. After a successful debut in years past, the Starbucks Smoked Butterscotch Latte relaunched again this January. The Smoked Butterscotch Latte is comprised of smoked butterscotch sauce, steamed milk, brewed espresso and then infused with smoked butterscotch.
Inspired by the boxes of chocolates given on Valentine’s day, Starbucks came out with a tasty new addition to their lineup. Starbucks’ new Cherry Mocha, which was only available from February 7th-14th, is like a “cherry cordial in liquid form.” The espresso is poured over mocha sauce and candied cherry syrup, which is meant to give the customer the experience of biting into a cherry cordial. Finally, steamed milk is added and then the drink gets the whipped cream treatment before Valentine’s-themed sprinkles top it off.
But wait, there’s more…For the first time in 40 years, Starbucks is adding a new kind of espresso to its permanent menu and it is worth trying! The Blonde Espresso is a light roasted bean from Latin America and East Africa which has a much brighter look than the original roast and noticeable notes of citrus and caramel. But don’t be fooled by the “light” roast of this Blonde Espresso because it contains just as much caffeine as the original dark roast espresso and all with a smoother flavor – so feel free to ditch the cream and sugar you used to add to your morning espresso.
Last, but certainly not least, Hazelnut Mocha Coconut Milk Macchiato is a new vegan option released by Starbucks. Capitalizing on the Nutella craze, this beverage includes bold espresso, infused with coconut milk, and then flavored with hazelnut syrup. Finally, it’s topped with a mocha drizzle to provide the experience of drinking liquefied Nutella from a cup.
PepsiCo Expands Product Portfolio
Annually, the sparkling water industry is growing by double digits with LaCroix boosting that volume by 63% in 2016. Now PepsiCo has officially hopped on the sparkling water bandwagon and released Bubly. Their marketing team came out with brightly colored cans with smiles on the label which vary by flavor. Bubly has no calories, artificial flavors or sweeteners and comes in 8 flavors: lime, grapefruit, strawberry, lemon, orange, apple, mango, and cherry.
PepsiCo also tapped into the innovative products segment and released Drinkfinity, which is a beverage system featuring a line of water-enhancing flavor pods designed to be used with their reusable “Vessel”. The idea is that the user will easily, “Peel, Pop and Shake” the pod to offer a “better-for-you” drink. The flavor lineup currently consists of fruit-based flavors operating in one of the four functional modes (Charge, Flow, Renew, and Chill): Mandarin Orange Charge, Lemon Spirulina Flow, Coconut Water Watermelon Renew, and White Peach Chill.
Another PepsiCo brand, Tropicana, released two new line extensions in the US based on consumer demands in the juice segment. First, Tropicana Kids is an organic line of 45% fruit juice and filtered water. Additionally, the drinks contain no artificial flavorings or sweeteners. The flavor lineup includes Fruit Punch, Mixed Berry, and Watermelon. Next, Tropicana Coco Blends offers a combination of 10% coconut water and Tropicana Juice, featuring no artificial flavorings or sweeteners and is available in Pineapple and Peach Passion Fruit.
DRY Soda’s Zero Sugar Line
Continuing on the trend toward healthier beverage offerings, Seattle based DRY Soda Company debuted two new sodas – a limited edition Summer Celebration and DRY Zero Sugar organic sodas. These unique looking sodas are sweetened with stevia leaf extract and contain only 5-7 ingredients. DRY Zero Sugar consists of two caffeinated flavors: Cola Soda and Peach Tea Soda. Other launched flavors include Mountain Berry Soda and Island Fruit Soda. DRY Soda Co. will also introduce an extension of the DRY Sparkling line, new 750 mL Watermelon and Pineapple Summer Celebration bottles, which are both leading flavor trends.
Diet Coke Rebooted
Coca-Cola is also innovating with the goal of modernizing Diet Coke to extend its appeal beyond current users, who are primarily baby-boomers. The slimmed down can and silver colors are meant to correspond with their other line, Dasani Sparkling, which hopefully will catch the attention of Millennials. The new Diet Coke flavors are Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange, and Twisted Mango. These new flavors are sweetened with acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) which is said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar, so less is required. Adding new flavors and a sleek redesign is a proven way for beverage makers to differentiate themselves from competitors and keep customers coming back. Now, it is up to Millennials to judge the effectiveness of this packaging and flavor strategy.
Big Brewers Hopping into IPAs
IPAs have been making an impact in the beer segment for nearly 10 years so it makes sense that Sam Adams finally hopped on board and released a juicy, hazy New England IPA. Released this year, they used Mosaic, Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe and Cascade hops to create this line with flavors described as “fruited pineapple and grapefruit hop character.”
But where’s the fun if there isn’t a little competition – or maybe big competition, in this case? That’s right, Sierra Nevada went nationwide with a new beer called Hazy Little Thing IPA in January. Hazy Little Thing strikes notes of juicy hop and citrusy flavors alongside the traditional hazy look.
Foraged Beers and Botanicals
Instead of partnering with faraway industrial farms for ingredients, the brewers at Scratch Brewing in Ava, Illinois incorporate ingredients they find around their Midwestern property. Foraging elements like burdock, dandelion, turmeric, hickory bark, maple leaves, and sumac berries, as well as dozens of other wild botanicals are included in their beers.
On that same note, a company by the name of Seedlip is distilling spirits sans alcohol, sugar, or artificial flavors with main ingredients of garden-found items. We’ve read it tastes like sophisticated gin and it comes in two flavors: the sultry Spice 94 (cardamom, oak, lemon, and grapefruit) and a refreshing Garden 108 (peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary, and thyme). Now health enthusiasts and those looking for non-alcoholic alternatives have a sophisticated and trendy new option.
Japanese Cola Innovation
In Japan, PepsiCo recently introduced a research-supported cola line, Pepsi J-Cola, to address the unmet needs of Japanese cola lovers. The new Pepsi J-Cola comes in several varieties, including Zero and Midnight variations, the latter of which has its own “flavor type.” This version of Pepsi possesses a black currant aroma specially designed to be consumed during the evening. Additionally, Coca-Cola is launching a new product called “chu-hi”, a low alcohol canned beverage to enter the popular “alcopop” market in Japan. Though not much discussion exists, we were able to locate an article outlining Coca-Cola’s international strategies. Chu-Hi beverages are typically composed of a distilled grain-based alcohol called “shōchū,” along with carbonated water and flavors such as strawberry, iced tea, and cream soda.
Whether either of these new products will follow the paths of other Asian influencers that migrated east to the U.S. market is yet to be determined.