The drinks have all been sipped and the decisions have all been made: BevNET is pleased to announce its Best of 2010 award winners. From the beverage giants to the single-SKU startups, the products reflected a strong affinity for quality and innovation. From edgy items like kombucha, with its diehard fanbase, to long-time favorites like lemonades, teas and CSD’s, not to mention the ongoing growth and extension of coconut water, BevNET’s 2010 award winners reflect the major prevailing trends in the beverage industry.
BevNET is pleased to announce that GTs Kombucha as the 2010 Product of the Year. The brand breaks from beverage industry norms on many levels, including its staggering 27 varieties, its required refrigeration, complicated fermented flavor, low level of alcohol, probiotic content, price point, and its exceptional packaging and taste. GTs kombucha also leaps over “need states” as a product that consumers are drinking, en masse, at almost every time of day. That’s something that products in many other categories, such as CSDs and energy drinks, have struggled to do.
Beyond that, however, the brand has created a sense of fierce loyalty among its consumers.
“Even the potential for regulatory action that forced the removal of kombuchas from store shelves over the summer only served to show us how important GTs has become to its consumers,” said BevNET President John Craven. “GTs fans hunted for the product far and wide, and not just for novelty value. They are a fully realized group of customers at the tip of organic, natural and functional trends.”
Other awards ranged across the industry’s categories while reflecting innovation and devotion to quality and taste. BevNET named Rockstar Recovery as its Energy Drink of the Year. The product takes energy and blends it with new functions, hydration and recovery, to make a unique hybrid beverage. On the other end of the spectrum, RelaxZen is BevNET’s Best Shot and Best Relaxation Drink of 2010. While just getting started, the company is creating an enterprise with the legs to go the distance by proposing that the still-emerging relaxation category may emerge more effectively as a functional, rather than recreational, product class.
In that vein, the functional category is certainly expanding and as a result, BevNET named Neuro as its Best Functional Beverage. Its seven-flavor line covers several functional areas and with a striking package, it is rapidly gaining momentum.
In the midst of new and intriguing offerings, solid staples like soda are still making waves. This year, BevNET recognized the fun, premium, locally-sourced Hotlips soda by giving the brand the Carbonated Soda of the Year honor.
Sweet Leaf’s Organic Lemon Iced Tea and Organic Citrus Green Tea were named Teas of the Year, and both flavors were found to be super-enjoyable, with a very mainstream flavor and the added marketable benefits of being USDA certified-organic.
BevNET’s Kids Product of the Year is O.N.E. Kids coconut water based juice drink. The product presents a clear change in flavor from traditional kids’ products, which are typically either super-sweet or watered down, according to Craven.
Coconut water wasn’t just commended for being kid-friendly. ZICO Coconut Water was given BevNET’s Packaging of the Year award for its sophisticated and clean PET bottle, giving the product an alternative, more mainstream look than its competitors. However, ZICO’s great year didn’t just end with fresh packaging. Company CEO Mark Rampolla was named BevNET’s Innovator of the Year. Notably, Rampolla guided the company through a bold strategic shift by adding a new PET package filled with a from-concentrate formula – a move that should not only protect the brand from future production shortages, but one that opened the doors to mainstream consumers. It’s also something that should further solidify the brand’s relationship with Coke’s Venturing and Emerging Brands Unit, and BevNET commended Rampolla’s strategy.
Other products receiving recognition in 2010 are 5-Hour Energy, recipient of Best Marketing Campaign of the Year award and PRE’s Synbiotic Drink Mix – BevNET’s choice for Best Tablet/Powder for 2010. Hint Water is the year’s Best Enhanced Water and Jones Soda was successful in the Best Product Revamp category for the job it did with WhoopAss. The product received an upgrade in both the formulation and the packaging, which can now run with the best of them.
Finally, BevNET awarded New Leaf Lemonade the year’s Best Non-Carbonated beverage. By excluding the filler juice and using only a few ingredient, New Leaf created something that’s true to the simple nature and great flavor of the classic beverage – and certainly worthy of recognition. As with the rest of the winners, that came with the classic denotation by BevNET as “Best of 2010.”