Would anyone like a beverage? A deep dive into the latest consumer trends, behavior, and preferences

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Posted May 18, 2022
Trevor Brown

What really makes a beverage buyer? We recently focused our attention on the beverage industry to uncover consumer trends and demand shifts that provide a detailed picture of what the average beverage buyer is looking for. By breaking down this research and sharing our analysis, we hope to offer the insights seekers the ability to learn more about the beverage industry. Take a sip!

Who’s buying what?

Let’s start with our sample: We asked 1,000 American adults between the ages of 18 and 75. We took care to verify that no one was surveyed who was actively working in an occupation that could bias their answers. Our research identified five distinct groups or segments of the beverage market. These five segments emerged from our research into the market and were fairly evenly distributed across the survey sample. Here they are:

  1. Health-Focused
  2. Brand Loyalists
  3. Tried and True
  4. Active Socials
  5. Frugal Favorites

When it comes to what these groups are buying, our study confirmed a growing interest in sugar reduction, sustainable packaging, and low or no alcoholic options for drinks. We’re also seeing a move towards functional beverages that focus on offering nutritional benefits that support specific bodily functions.

Other notable trends were tied to the above market segments. For instance, 82% of Health-Focused consumers find the beverage’s nutritional value important, and 68% prefer fresh drinks. These buyers were also the most significant segment that focused on purchasing sustainable products. We also saw that Brand Loyalists who trust their preferred brands are not nearly as concerned with the nutritional value of the beverages they consume. Their consumption rates have not changed much with the pandemic. 

A deep dive into six beverage categories

We wanted to deep dive into some of the more prominent beverage categories to get a better understanding of consumer trends. These categories cover the overall scope of products within each market. We looked at general consumption habits and interest in trends specific to each beverage. Here are some of the finds for each category:

#1: Coffee

Coffee is a beverage with nearly universal appeal. Consumers young and old enjoy the drink, whether hot or cold, and at any time of day. Generally, all segments strongly prefer hot coffee, but the Active Socials prefer it most. 

The second most popular coffee beverage was iced coffee, with Cold Brew and other categories dropping in popularity after that. Drinking coffee early in the morning is the most common time for most consumers. Our research also showed that 80% of coffee consumers brew their coffee at home and that the largest segment to purchase coffee through drive-thru windows was the Brand Loyalists segment. 

#2: Carbonated drinks

Carbonated drinks are everywhere, from soda to sparkling water and everywhere in between. But the most common way consumers take their bubbly drinks is through traditional cans or bottles from large brands—and the second most common is through a drive-thru or take-out restaurant. Additionally, most Health-Focused consumers tend to prefer to drink sparkling water more than the other segments. 

Our report further revealed that the afternoon and evenings are the most popular times for consuming carbonated beverages across all segments. Finally, there is a great deal of brand loyalty amongst soda drinkers, most of whom will buy the product in individual cans or bottles or buy in bulk. 

#3: Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are popular with active and athletic users and are consumed not just as a food but also for their functional capability to assist the body in its physical endeavors. Across the segments, early and mid-afternoon are the most popular times for consuming sports drinks and powders. 

Our research demonstrates that consumers are confident that sports drinks aid in hydration, replace electrolytes, and are a lower sugar alternative. Health-Focused buyers are more likely to believe in the nutritional benefits claimed by the manufacturers. As expected, the Active Socials segment is more likely to try unique flavors of sports drinks. 

#4: Fruit infused drinks and juice shots

Our report also looked at fruit-infused beverages and found that most tended to consume juice shots in the morning, with half of the consumers being interested in fresh-pressed juices. Most consumers firmly believe in the nutritional efficacy of these juice shots and that they provide an immunity boost, amino acids, or other benefits. Unique flavors are also popular among juice lovers, with eight in ten preferring unique tastes and blends. 

#5: Alcoholic Beverages

When it comes to consumers who’ve recently consumed alcoholic beverages, we found that the vast majority consumed either beer or wine, and a significant majority had also consumed spirits such as tequila, brandy, or vodka. As expected, alcohol consumption tends to occur most often in the evening across the segments, with the second most frequent time being night. 

One of the insights revealed by the report was that many consumers are interested in alcoholic drinks infused with juice or fruit for immunity support. Specialty flavored beers were also popular among consumers. Finally, Health-Focused individuals are significantly more interested in the latest alcoholic beverage trends, such as juice infusions, while the Tried and True consumers are less interested. A slim majority of consumers in this space like to try new drink options and unique flavors. 

#6: Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Finally, the report looked at consumer trends relating to non-alcoholic beverages relating to specialty drinks such as non-alcoholic beer or mocktails. On average, one in ten have consumed a non-alcoholic beverage in the past six months. These beverages are significantly more popular among the Frugal Favorites market segment. 

How to keep up with an ever-changing beverage industry

Like most consumer markets, the beverage market is highly dynamic and has several features that aren’t always easy to understand without practical consumer insights tools. Knowing the desires and opinions of consumers is incredibly important when crafting initiatives that will impact your market offerings.  If you’re interested in the full report, it’s right here!

Insights in the beverage industry can greatly benefit from an effective and agile partner to help get a better idea of exactly how their consumers are feeling about the latest trends. By bringing the voice of the consumer to the decision-making table, brands can be the hero— designing products to suit customers’ demands and ensuring excellent service. 

At aytm, we aim to fits this need. With a host of tools and solutions, we can provide you with real-time, in-depth data and insights regarding your target market no matter what industry you’re in.

If you’re interested in functional beverages and want to learn more about the market, download the full report now

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