‘Healthy sodas’ appeal to consumers, Mintel

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd September 2014
'Healthy sodas' appeal to consumers, Mintel
‘Healthy sodas’ appeal to consumers, Mintel

More than half (52 per cent) of Canadian consumers said they like to check the ingredients on the packaging of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), according to findings from global market research organisation Mintel.

Mintel said many Canadians were constantly looking for ways to adopt a healthier diet and monitor what ingredients they are eating and drinking.

Consumers interested in ‘healthier’ adaptations of soft drinks

However, rather than give up their favorite fizzy beverage, it seems that a high share of Canadians are more interested in ‘healthier’ adaptations of their favorite soft drinks. Indeed, new Mintel research found that four in 10 (41 per cent) of Canadian CSD users would be interested in CSDs that aid digestive health.

Additionally, one third (36 per cent) of these users would be interested in buying CSDs that contain botanical extracts and 46 per cent agree that types with less sweet flavors would complement a meal better. This underlines the potential for brands to continue driving the profile of the ‘lighter’ segment of the market, which stands at $3 billion overall, compared to over $41 billion in the US.

“There may be opportunities for CSDs to leverage functional benefits to boost usage in the category,” said Warren de Lima, senior research analyst at Mintel. “Interestingly, this would hark back to when these products were first introduced and were marketed with claims that they could aid digestion,” he said.

“Functionality has been a boon to markets such as energy drinks, with brands delivering tangible benefits to users,” Mr de Lima said. “While there remain some difficulties for brands to use approved claims, this represents an area worth further exploration,” he said.

Health comes into consumers’ soft drink choices

When it comes to choosing a particular carbonated soft drink, health again plays a role. 29 per cent of users stated that low/no calorie content would make them choose one type of CSD over another and 14 per cent would be attracted to a CSD with natural ingredients. This is of particular relevance, according to Mintel, because the attribute which Canadian CSD drinkers are most likely to associate with them is that they are artificial (62 per cent).

Younger consumers are also surprisingly the most likely to agree that carbonated drinks which are less fizzy appeal to them, with agreement peaking among 18-24s at 35 per cent, well ahead of the overall average (24 per cent).

“Pepsi Next, introduced in early 2014, was launched to respond to consumer concerns around CSDs being artificial and high in sugar,” Mr de Lima said. “It is positioned as a low-calorie cola that is ‘naturally sweetened’ by using stevia extract, allowing the sugar content to undercut ‘the leading regular cola’ by 30 per cent,” he said.

“Lower or no-calorie drinks are now a central part of the CSD market and essential to the portfolios of many companies such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola,” Mr de Lima said.

Mr de Lima said the enduring criticism of the category for its claimed health deficiencies had now been tackled by many brands.

“The subsequent progress in this ‘lighter’ segment over the past decade has been significant, and looks set to continue growing in the years ahead,” Mr de Lima said. “However, taste is still all-important and consumers will only embrace these ‘lighter’ drinks in the long term if they taste as good as the regular/standard varieties. Vitaminwater’s recent backtracking from a stevia-based recipe in the US bottled water market underlines the difficulties brands face in balancing taste with health,” he said.