Beverage Brands Bet on Calming and Relaxing ProductsSeptember 30, 2020 - by Taylor Getler
Whether they’re baking bread or buying up their favorite childhood snacks, consumers are turning to food and beverage brands to relieve stress. We’re in a moment when shoppers are feeling a ton of pressure and anxiety, and beverage brands are seeing an opportunity to add functional products for relaxation in addition to their caffeinated, high-energy offerings.
Pepsi’s “Driftwell™” is a Hard Pivot from Caffeinated Sodas
Soda companies have been losing consumers for years as shoppers moved towards healthier, less sugary alternatives. This has forced major beverage companies like Pepsi to diversify their product portfolios in experimental and creative ways. This constant innovation allows them to stay on top of trends and satisfy consumers’ changing needs. The latest iteration of this is Pepsi’s new brand Driftwell™, a sleep aid that is planned for launch in early 2021.
Driftwell™ contains L-theanine, an amino acid found in green and black teas that scientists believe can act as a natural relaxant. Although this kind of product is still pretty niche in America, Coca-Cola launched their own “Sleep Water” product in Japan way back in 2016.
CBD Grows Up
CBD, one of the trendiest ingredients of the past few years, is getting a more mature image now that more shoppers are actively looking for products that relieve stress. Liweli™, a wellness company based out of New York, has just launched a line of water-soluble CBD drink mixes earlier this month. The brand has the kind of sleek, modern branding that other water enhancers like Mio have been using, with simple and approachable packaging that emphasizes the supposed functional benefits of CBD.
Recess, a CBD-infused sparkling water brand, also uses attractive minimalist packaging to communicate that their products help consumers stay “cool calm collected.” Although the brand launched back in 2018, the company has found that it resonates with consumers now more than ever.
The company’s original slogan was actually “an antidote to modern times,” and Recess’s CEO explained to Forbes just how prescient that turned out to be. “A global pandemic was not the modern times we had in mind, but the whole theory of Recess is that the world’s increasingly going crazy and it’s unsettling. We all need to take a recess throughout the day.”
He went on to say that he sees major potential for the category as a whole to grow even beyond CBD. “We have a category forming with functional calming and relaxation beverages that probably within a ten-year period, is going to become bigger than energy drinks. And our business plan is to be the Red Bull® of that category,” he said.
This shift is something that we’re already seeing with debuts like Driftwell™, and it would be amazing to see such a specific category grow to something that could compete with energy products.
Demand for Tea Jumps at the Worst Time
Meanwhile, one of the oldest and most traditional calming beverages is seeing new demand at a difficult time. Tea consumption is on the rise, but labor shortages in areas hit especially hard by lockdown restrictions have crippled manufacturers’ capabilities. For example, Darjeeling, a major tea growing region in India, struggled to harvest their first two waves of seasonal crops this spring thanks to the pandemic.
This led to price hikes just as consumers started to replenish their tea stocks more frequently. According to Mashed, “quarantines and working from home now mean that tea stashes which used to last a while are being consumed much more quickly.”
Beyond the fact that tea offers relaxation at a time of high stress and anxiety, consumers across many different cultures believe that tea possesses health benefits that might help them fight off illness. When talking with Reuters, a representative used Russia as an example to explain that “demand for tea is higher than it was…tea in Russia has an image of a thing that, combined with lemon, boosts the immunity system.”
Right now, American consumers seem to mainly see calming and relaxing products as things that help them feel good. If they do come to understand stress reduction and good sleep as part of an overall wellness routine, we could see more of these products integrating vitamins and immunity-boosting ingredients. One thing is for sure – as everyday life gets more stressful, brands have an opportunity to be there for consumers that need something to help them unwind.