Searching for the Oasis in a Bottle: Calming and Relaxing Beverages

July 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated the consumer need for beverages that have relaxing, stress-relieving, or sleep-inducing functionalities. While beverages have spoken to these concerns for centuries, the new wave of calming beverages is expanding to new categories and taking advantage of new ingredients to address the needs of a stressed-out world.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key findings

Calming as a functionality is surging in importance

Even prior to Coronavirus (COVID-19), consumer stress levels were rising significantly around the world. The pandemic is a major additional burden on global mental health and will help ensure that even in an era of tight R&D budgets calming beverages remain a critical area of beverage innovation.

Caffeine consumption is rising worldwide and will need to be mitigated

Rates of caffeine consumption are rising, yet consumers show little willingness to cut back. That means that it will fall to beverages that can mitigate the effects of caffeine to help consumers avoid negative side effects such as jitteriness and sleep disruption while still getting the energy they need.

Pivoting to calming will help alcohol alternatives deal with the effects of COVID-19

Mindful drinking, in its pre-COVID-19 form, generally focused on allowing consumers to fully participate in social occasions without drinking alcohol. With those occasions restricted for the foreseeable future, the way forward for alcohol alternatives will be to make inroads on alcohol’s stress-relief usages, which align well with the category’s general focus on appealing to health-minded consumers.

Herbal teas have a strong calming reputation already and will be a key area

Herbal teas have provided calming benefits for centuries, providing a level of proven effectiveness and consumer trust other beverages cannot match. They will remain at the forefront of calming beverage innovation, with a particular focus on blending emerging ingredients (adaptogens, cannabis) with more traditional ones.

Functional relaxation drinks will need to avoid the mistakes of the past to make the mainstream

Functional relaxation drinks are not new but the first burst of excitement surrounding them failed to translate into mainstream popularity. For this time to be different, they will need to better align with wider trends in functional beverages, including clean labels and closer positioning to water rather than carbonates.


Key findings
Stress, anxiety and the role of beverages
Calming beverages serve one of three major purposes
COVID-19 has disrupted the evolution of functional beverages
The world is stressed out and becoming more stressed all the time
COVID-19 has increased the pressure on an already-stressed world
Beverages are only one tool in consumers’ fight for calm
Visualising the anxiety economy
Consumers often perceive themselves as not engaging in stress relief
Calming looks very different throughout the day
Blurred lines with other functionalities should be expected
Conclusions: Calming beverages
Caffeinated beverage categories continue to see strong growth
Unmitigated rising caffeine consumption will eventually cause problems
Rising caffeine intake will create stronger demand for calming products
Calming beverages as a new form of mindful drinking
Alcohol’s functional usages are vulnerable to effective alternatives
Alcohol alternatives will need to think beyond the social aspect
Consumers do not yet perceive these substitutes as being ready
Differentiating the occasions: Kin Euphorics
The kava bar: a model for on-trade relaxation in a COVID-19 world?
Calming beverages in coffees and teas
Herbal teas have the strongest calming positioning of any beverage
Calming is a big part of why herbals are critical to global tea growth
New ingredients: adaptogens can touch on all calming occasions
New ingredients: cannabis shows promise but remains tricky
What is the role of coffee in stress relief?
Functional relaxation drinks
Why did relaxation drinks not take off?
A new wave of relaxation drinks seeks to fix the mistakes of the past
Chill Out: Coca-Cola’s entry into the new wave of calming beverages
Overhyped claims need to be avoided in order to not repeat history
Shot formats will also play a role for calming on the go
Conclusions: the variety of relaxation beverages

Soft Drinks

This is the aggregation of the following categories; Carbonates, Fruit/vegetable juice, Bottled water, Functional drinks, Concentrates, RTD tea, RTD coffee and Asian speciality drinks.

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