Specicity is on the drink menu in Japan, as Kirin Well Foods has introduced Kirin Uru Water,a product line that includes drinks that may combat hypertension, high blood pressure and globular proteins. Tea catechins – those supposed calorie burners – and amino acid-based products are also increasing in popularity in Japan, although not at a level that can match tea itself.
Additionally, a study from Japan indicates that drinking a cup of polyphenol-enriched Oolong tea with a high-fat meal may increase the amount of cholesterol excreted by the body. The tea polyphenol EGCG is already the main active ingredient in so-called “weight loss” teas like Enviga, and with this study getting attention in Japan, it is expected to produce even further good news in the tea market.
Venerable bottled water maker Gerolsteiner has been on a major innovation kick, launching three different lines of avored and functional waters that incorporate small amounts of natural juice. Naturell is a straightforward 3 percent fruit juice blend, while Moment is a avor combination that adds tea to create a peaceful interruption to the everyday hustle and bustle. Finally, Sport is a sports drink that incorporates fruit juice, natural fructose and electrolytes derived from sea salt.
Nestlé scientic director Peter van Bladeren recently mentioned that his company was working to improve the effectiveness of various nutrients through the use of different proteins: for example, using a milk enzyme to improve the bioavailability of lycopene for so-called “Cosmeceutical” products.
From the U.K.comes a new idea in bulk bottled water – the Glacia Icebox. This 5 L fridge-pack emulates a wine box, only the box is fully biodegradable and dispenses spring water from the Arctic region. With a spill-proof tap valve and a 5-year shelf life, this product may be another pallet-sized option for an innovative water company.
Forget customer niches – marketers are aiming for the individual. At a time when custom-t clothes are available for order on-line and you can pick the color and details on your very own Nikes, beverage companies would do well to think about their customers as people, not groups.
By offering customers the chance to print up their own 6-pack labels, Jones Soda hit the customization target first. The idea built the credibility of the then-upstart brand. Since Jones pretty much has the market cornered on that idea, look at some other ways CPG companies are trying to turn on customers one-by-one.
Mars Inc., the maker of M&M’s, created a Web site that allows customers to create an M&M that looks like them – or like a celebrity – and lets them make photos, videos, and E-cards with their candy character. Anheuser-Busch has long let Web surfers send personalized greetings using various icons. And Burger King’s infamous “Subservient Chicken” site brought its “Chicken Your Way” campaign home for thousands of customers.
So how do you start targeting the individual? Broader product arrays are one method, although it can be tough to get a retailer to gamble the space on a new line. Another is to look at individualization as part of a marketing campaign, rather than a product line ‘a la Budweiser – think about ways consumers can build a one-on-one relationship with the product.
Finally, allowing consumers to customize products themselves, via push-in avor additive, or coloring packets, is also on the rise. The Massachusetts packaging design company Ipini is working on a customizable bottle, while the fast-food restaurant McDonalds is also experimenting with extra “flavor shots.”
• Health Claims Hitting Home
The furor over the health benefits of foods, beverages, and various nutrients is starting to resonate with consumers, according to a survey by Harris Interactive.
While they can’t be specific, they can be familiar, according to the poll results. More than half of adults say they are concerned about the impacts of saturated fats and almost half (46 percent) were familiar with the health impact of trans-fatty acids.
Meanwhile, adults are aware of products like whole grains – two in five say they eat them more often than they did last year – and almost 80 percent believe there is a link between mental sharpness and the type of foods they eat. A large majority – 60 percent – said they sometimes buy foods that are rich in antioxidants, while 7 percent more said they “always do.”
That awareness of the effects of certain ingredients means that drink makers should continue to stress the positive.
“Consumers can articulate the health benefits of particular ingredients,” said Harris’s Anne Aldrich. “Savvy marketers will want to link these benefits to their product’s unique brand promise.”
• From the Desk of Gen Y
Outlaw Consulting has released its 2007 Trusted Brands index, which lists the brands that have earned the most respect and loyalty among young trendsetters in the U.S.
Sampling 109 “trendsetter panelists” in four coastal cities, Outlaw primarily spoke with consumers in the “Gen Y” 21 to 27-year-old demographic. Brands who made the list typically had a simple, stripped down product design and marketing scheme, a sense of authentic “dorkiness” revealed by a friendly, authentic vibe, stores that seemed to have happy employees, and a constant aura of innovation, improvement, and a feeling they are attempting to move society forward through the reinvention of their products.
Only two beverage brands made the cut: Vitaminwater and Red Stripe, while three beverage-heavy retailers also found a place: Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Target.
Here’s the full list, along with the percentage of panelists who placed a brand in their top two.
1. Apple (60.9)
2. Trader Joe’s (57.4)
3. Jet Blue (46.4)
4. In-N-Out Burger (38.8)
5. Ben and Jerry’s (33.6)
6. Whole Foods (32.4)
7. Adidas (31.8)
8. American Apparel (31.2)
9. Target (29.4)
10. H & M (28.9)
11. Levi’s (26.4)
12. Volkswagen (24.8)
13. Converse (24.5)
14. Vitaminwater (18.5)
15. Red Stripe (17.5)
Takeaway message for beverage makers: cut out the hype, act modest, and present quality. Also, having Hawaiian Shirts, a proprietary music player, and a little TV in the back of your seat couldn’t hurt, either.
More serious takeaway: there are only two beverage brands who made the cut – one that’s very new, and one that’s been around forever. Both are understated, uniquely packaged, and have strong, simple product messages. Get the picture? If you do just a few things well, young consumers will appreciate you for it.
• Environmental Issues Lead to Bottle Evolution
Launching what could be a second exciting product line,Metabolix,the maker ofa biodegradable plastic from American switchgrass,is now looking to develop another temporary package from sugarcane.
The company recently announced it is working with an Australian biotechnology research center to develop biodegradable plastic from Australian sugar. If successful,the technology would join another heralded development,a plastic bottle made form corn, to help reduce stress on the world’s landfills.
Biodegradability is one ofthe packaging options being pushed not just byenvironmentalists,but by retailers and manufacturers alike.The Coca-Cola
Co. and PepsiCo are both under pressure from shareholders to reduce theenvironmental impact oftheir packaging,and have responded by using lessplastic in their water bottles,among other initiatives,as has Nestlé Waters North America.
Even more importantly,Wal-Mart has made a commitment to drastically reduce its packaging impact – a commitment that will likely include major nudging ofits suppliers to fall in line,as has been the retailing giant’s pattern in other initiatives.
• CSD Packages: Single Serves RuleRemember the two-liter bottle? We do,too,but apparently,consumersdon’t.And within that forgetfulness lies important food for thought for new beverage launches.
The fat-boy PET container has slipped from the top-selling package in supermarkets to having halfthe share ofthe innovative 12-can “fridge pack,” which created major incremental growth among home cola users.While the big plastic container still has a 23.6 percent share,according to Beverage Digest,it has receded in the wake of ergonomic single-serve multi-packs.
That follows recent consumption trends:according to the most recent Eating Patterns in America report,issued by the NPD Group,convenience continues to be the dominant characteristic ruling consumption choices.
On the whole,in fact,only two packages – both 12 oz.sizes – saw increased sales.In addition to fridge packs,new 8-packs of12 oz.PET bottles grew a tiny amount, and may do so in the future as aluminum costs go up.
Single-serve has pretty much always been the key introductory size for new products,but as they take on share,new brands often experiment with different packaging structures to broaden their sales base in different channels. Relatively new success stories like Jones Soda and Honest Tea (which recently went back to the future with a sport pouch ‘a la WILDs’ Capri Sun) both extended single serve multi-packs into club and mass market stores,while energy drinks are moving into increasingly large packages,with a fair amount ofsuccess,as 24 oz.cans have grown quickly for Monster and BooKoo.
Resealable cans have arrived with greater authority as well – Rockstar and Jolt,in particular,are now selling Thermos-like cans with twist-offtops to offer some continued utility after the can is opened.Those products seem well-suited to tavern usage,where an energy drink mixer is extremely profitable.But don’t expect the same treatment for CSDs,where the fountain gun is a much more likely dispersal method.
Takeaway – think about where your product will be sold as much as you do the target audience and function. And never stop thinking about what your next package will be.
• Beautiful in the Clear Stuff
Glass Packaging Institute Issues Clear Choice Awards
Several beverage companies received awards from the Glass Packaging Institute during their annual Clear Choice Awards, including soft drink, wine, beer and spirits brands. They showed the real innovation that can come when using a medium as traditional as glass. Among the winners were:
Michelob Celebrate and Michelob AmberBock – which offered “specialty and craft-style beers that showcase flavor varieties and quality taste,” according to the judges.
Important Packaging Note: Intended for sharing, featured pressure-sensitive labeling.
• A Really Cool Idea
While it’s probably not the most original packaging innovation, as an extension of an ongoing campaign, Coors’ new cold-activated bottle is nonetheless pretty fun. With the new glass bottle, mountains on the label turn from white to blue when Coors Light is at the “optimal temperature for cold refreshment” – around 41 degrees.
According to Coors Light research, consumers want to know when their beer is cold enough to drink. To meet that need, Coors Light introduced the Cold Activated Bottle, which features mountains on the label in thermochromatic ink that turn blue when Coors Light has been “chilled to the perfect temperature for ice cold refreshment.”
The Cold Activated Bottle is available on all 12 oz. Coors Light and Coors bottles at participating bars, restaurants, grocery, convenience stores and liquor stores.
But Coors isn’t the only company in the game. It’s rival, Budweiser, also is introducing labling to indicate that it’s the right temperature. And energy drink company Hoborama’s new Bawls Guarana Cherry also has a cold-activated label.
Now, we’ve had heat-activated coffee mugs for years, but we don’t see them really impressing our guests. But this is still the kind of thing that can carry a cocktail party for hours.
Hank’s Gourmet Beverages – which showed Mountain Valley Spring Water – which Fruttzo Organic Pomegranate Juice – which “carbonated beverages that offer craft quality demonstrated “retro package designs with a utilized “custom package designs and intricate and elegant packaging.” modern twist.” labeling to create brand recognition.”
Important Packaging Note: Metallic embossed Important Packaging Note: Old-school glass Important Packaging Note: Contoured, labels on upscale glass bottle. package with hi-tech screen printing process. ceramic-labeled, embossed glass bottles.
• Spicy News on Taste Trends McCormick and Company, Inc. isn’t a •avor house, but it is the largest spice company in the world – and since 2000, they’ve started a program of forecasting important flavor trends for the American palates. If you look at top taste trends, they all involve blending. So do cultural trends, which all involve ‘mashups’ of different audio or video types.
So when McCormick announces its top 10 flavor pairings, its worth looking at them, both from the sense of flavors to incorporate in new drink products, as well as flavors to think of in a complimentary sense.
Here they are:
1. Clove and Green Apple
2. Thyme and Tangerine
3. Tellicherry Black Pepper and Cherry
4. Sea Salt and Smoked Tea
5. Lavender and Honey
6. Crystallized Ginger and Salted Pistachio
7. Cumin and Apricot
8. Toasted Mustard and Fennel Seeds
9. Wasabi and Maple
10. Carmelized Garlic and Riesling Vinegar
Note that half involve some sort of fruit flavor, but that condiments are also extremely important – vinnegar, honey, salt, pepper and wasabi. Finding tastes that can pair well with those notions will put drink makers a step ahead.
• Terrific Tipple? Scientists Research Antioxidants – and Alcohol
If you’re in the market for a mixer, it might not be a bad idea to look at something with strawberries in it – new research from the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture indicates that the antioxidant capabilities of strawberries can be made even stronger when the fruit is mixed with ethanol. Ethanol is, as we all know, when it’s not being used to satisfy fuel subsidies, the alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila, and other kinds of booze.
While you’re considering a strawberry margarita or a strawberry mojito, you should also consider the antioxidant properties of these •ve other berries: red and black raspberries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries, all of which have their own antioxidant claims. The jury is still out on the true efficacy of antioxidants when it comes to cancer-fighting, but if you want to make sure you’re using the strongest, a UCLA study recently fingered black raspberries, blackberries and strawberries as most effective in their testing.
• Sweetening the Pot
The hunt for a new diet sweetener continues.
Last year, Honest Tea scrapped a tea using a much-ballyhooed mix of erythritol and agave syrup, while Guru Energy continued to push forward in its use of the fruit extract luo han guo.
Neither product set the world on fire – or quenched its thirst. But now the big boys are in the game. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Coca-Cola Co. and the massive agricultural conglomerate Cargill are trying to develop a natural sweetener called rebiana, an extract from the stevia plant. Stevia is a South American herb related to chrysanthemum. The two companies have been working together for more than two years, according to Coke representatives.
Under the agreement, Coke will sell the sweetener in some as-yet-unnamed products, while Cargill will contract with some of its farmers to grow stevia and handle the extraction process. Cargill will also shepherd the sweetener through the FDA approval process. Stevia isn’t approved for use in the U.S. yet, but is employed in Brazil, Japan and China.
Coke has reportedly applied for two dozen patents for rebiana and rebiana•related processes.
• Rats Rejoice!
While the hunt for new formulations will go on, it won’t continue to go on at the expense of laboratory animals, according to a recent agreement between PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Co. and animal rights activists like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Previously, PepsiCo had financed some animal experiments directly, including some through the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Coke had also been providing money to a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University to work on studying taste pathways in rats.
Coke and Pepsi aren’t the only beverage companies to hop off the laboratory table in the past year. PETA has recently taken aim at the beverage industry, and Welch’s, Ocean Spray, and Roll International – the maker of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice – have also agreed to stop conducting tests on animals.
In the case of Pom Wonderful, animal testing had another casualty – Pom representative Fiona Posell left the company after much of the pressure took on a personal nature.
Animal testing has reportedly dropped nearly 50 percent overall in the past 30 years because of outside pressure and because of improved diagnostic capabilities of alternative methods, according to the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing.