Gone are the days of buying a product for the advertised accompanying lifestyle. Nowadays, people are buying based on the fulfilment of their core needs. Consumers are looking to buy products that will positively impact their life, and not just dress it in a cute accessory. Brands need more than aesthetic packaging and a tasty product, it needs to deliver on the promise of an improved existence upon consumption.
WHAT IS A FUNCTIONAL BEVERAGE?
Functional beverages are a type of drink marketed to highlight specific ingredients to promote a feeling or other positive effect on the mind or body. When people think of functional beverages, they tend to immediately think of energy drinks.
Redbull, Lucozade and Monster are all marketed to highlight the effective amounts of caffeine in the drinks, used to induce wakefulness and give the consumer a heightened awareness. These drinks tend to be marketed for athletes, claiming that the ingredients of these energy drinks will increase their physical performance.
Aside from sports drinks, the term ‘functional beverages’ also encompasses drinks that are packed with vitamins and minerals to improve brain function and general health. Drinks like Vitamin Water spring to mind in this genre of beverages, or even twinings tea.
WHAT ARE NOOTROPICS?
Nootropics have been around for centuries. The term was first coined in the 1970’s and was used to describe a new classification of molecules that acted selectively towards the brain's higher-level integrative activity. This included central nervous system stimulants such as Modafinil.
But we’re not talking study drugs here, we’re talking natural nootropics. The big one we all know and love is caffeine. Drunk every morning by most people on the planet, coffee and tea is packed full of caffeine that stimulates a feeling of wakefulness in our brains.
Caffeine is just the tip of the natural nootropic iceberg. Substances like L-Theanine, Creatine, Ginseng, Ginkgo Bilboa and Curcumin are all naturally occurring nootropics that are now being incorporated into functional beverages, such as Peak.
WHAT ARE NEED STATES?
Energy, arousal, calm, sleep, and hydration: these are the timeless ‘need states’ of consumers. When buying a product, the consumer is fulfilling one of these core needs. Functional beverages are storming the market because they fulfil multiple needs states at one time.
Function beverages require the consumer to drink the product to fulfil a need. That need means that they’re not just drinking something for the sake of it. This more considerate consumption is a byproduct of the more mindful era of consumers.
Need states are not a new concept. We have always needed energy, hydration and so on. The concept has become more prevalent due to our new heightened awareness of mental wellbeing and the massive growth of the wellness industry. The functional beverage genre grew from these need states as a means of fulfilling these needs in an accessible, convenient and enjoyable format.
COVID AND THE RISE OF FUNCTIONAL BEVERAGES
We all know that Covid has changed our lives and the landscape of our world forever. One of the main sectors to benefit from the pandemic is the wellness industry.
The pandemic shifted our needs towards wellness and health. The threat of succumbing to this illness made us prioritise consuming products that would help us battle the enemy that is Covid-19. Products that promised to boost immune systems, fight fatigue and up our vitamin intake skyrocketed since covid emerged. Consumer and business interest surrounding immune-boosting ingredients in beverages and food increased by 51% between 2020 and 2021.
Functional wellness drinks are currently worth £240.2m, totalling 2.7% of the soft drinks market. Shoppers are willing to pay more than double the average price of a normal soft drink for a functional one.
Covid worked in favour of the functional beverage market, bumping its revenue in staggering numbers as the fear of getting ill made some consumers reevaluate their priorities.
A MORE FUNCTIONAL FUTURE
Functional beverages have well and truly cemented themselves in the beverage market. PepsiCo, one of the largest food and beverage corporations in the world, recently invested in Soulboost and Driftwell. By investing in these products, PepsiCo has demonstrated the validity of functional beverages and paved the way for further growth within the global market.
Functional beverages are becoming increasingly mainstream in the UK, with brands like MedaHuman and Peak beginning to line the shelves of our supermarkets and corner shops.
The U.K. nootropic functional beverages market stood at USD 126.9 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 260.2 million by 2027. That is an immense growth for a range of products dismissed by many until recently.
The ever sceptical British consumer may be quick to overlook the benefits of anything called a ‘nootropic’. It sounds like a new age medicine term, and what's wrong with water anyway? But why just drink water when you can hydrate your brain with creativity boosting ingredients to pump up your productivity? Functional beverages are the future of consumer needs. If you won’t take my word for it, Louie Syred, co-founder of Peak beverages explains:
“If you’re already eating superfoods, like leafy greens, berries and legumes, you’re already consuming nootropics. Functional beverages, like Peak, separate specific nootropics and combine them to improve the way your brain works. So if you’re interested in feeling better, functional beverages are for you.”
Ditch the scepticism and get ahead of the trend. Pick function over form.