These category transformers are aiming at niche segments, explains Jeanette Bengtsson, non-alcohol drinks account manager for Euromonitor International, London.
“With more manufacturers entering emerging market sectors that are already quite saturated with carbonates, juice and water, they’re going after niche segments,” Bengtsson says. “We’re seeing juice/ready-to-drink (RTD) tea mixes, juice/energy drinks, juice/water, sparkling juices and premium juices, such as smoothies, that are going for niches.”
And in some categories that have been downtrodden, new product heroes have enlivened the category.
“In the past year or the past two years, one of the main trends has been an increase in health awareness,” Bengtsson says. “Consumers have been worrying more about the content of their drinks and making sure to eat and drink healthfully. This has led to an increase in natural products, such as 100 percent juices, smoothies and low-calorie beverages.”
In the alcohol segment, premium and economy alcohol drinks are growing, which is squeezing mainstream brands that are caught in the middle, explains Anne Nugent, alcohol drinks account manager at Euromonitor International.
Summer is the time when studios roll out their potential blockbusters and a few beverage categories have experienced the beverage equivalent of a multi-million dollar opening weekend. Double-digit growth was reported for energy drinks, RTD tea, RTD coffee and bottled water, according to data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, for sales ending May 20, 2007. Only carbonated soft drinks and domestic beer experienced a “flop,” to borrow the movie industry term for disappointing performance. Both categories saw single-digit decreases in the past year.
Is the buzz knocked out of energy drinks?Though it’s plentiful with new entries, the category that offers its consumers a boost may have reached its peak, the data show. Energy drinks are still growing, but growth is slowing. The category boasted 70 percent growth in 2004 and a 54 percent increase in 2005, according to IRI data. This year’s numbers, which include 2006 and half of 2007, show a 36 percent lift in sales.
Energy drink’s top performers, such as pioneer brand Red Bull, remain in the ranks and it seems new entries join each day. Mintel’s Global New Products Database yields more than 140 new energy drinks in the past year. With so many new entries, many carve out their point of difference by target demographic. For 18- to 35-year-old males there are plenty of testosterone-inspired products with names such as DareDevil, Power Trip, The Beast and XS Energy Drink.
For consumers who are concerned about a product’s endorser plenty of celebrity endorsed formulations are out there. Socko has a product endorsed by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, action movie star Steven Seagal has his own Lighting Bolt line, and Pepsi recently partnered with racecar driver Jeff Gordon for a limited-edition energy drink called 24 High Octane.
Carbonated soft drink player, Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, had a large gainer in its hybrid energy drink/carbonated soft drink Vault. The brand reported a 781 percent growth. The growth was so convincing, it added berry-flavored Vault Red Blitz this March to the lineup. Coca-Cola also expanded its Full Throttle line with a Blue Demon variety, which was inspired by the Hispanic wrestling legend of the same name.
Hispanics have become a big target for energy drink formulations with Spanish names and regional flavors. Caballo Negro by Distribuidores De La Energia Inc., Burlingame, Calif., features Spanish language packaging. Chicago-based Tampico entered the category last summer with Tampico Energy. Also new is Potencia energy drink, which featured its Tamarind flavor at tradeshows this spring.
Females also are a target for energy drink makers who have rolled out daintily packaged products that pack a punch. Coke’s Tab Energy holds the No. 8 spot in IRI’s Top 10 energy drinks with nearly $15 million in sales. In addition, brands such as HER, Go Girl and Rip It Chic also use pink packages to attract female consumers.
Natural energy is another segment of the market that increased this year. Hydrive from the same-named Rye, N.Y.-based company, uses spring water as its base. Naked Juice, Azusa, Calif., rolled out its energy smoothie line in the spring of 2006, which has grown to include three flavors that have one pound of fruit and 43 mg. of caffeine in every bottle.
Juice also has been leveraged as a base for extensions in the Rockstar, Kronik and BooKoo portfolios. Better known for its produce, Del Monte entered into energy drinks last month with Bloom energy. The drink has real fruit, antioxidants and calcium. Bloom launched in Mango Passionfruit, Wild Berry and Cran Raspberry varieties.
Surf's up for flavored, functional watersConsumers are well aware of the benefits of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. The trouble is, they have a hard time complying. To help consumers get hydrated, companies have released a vast array of flavored and functional waters.
In January, Pepsi got into the enhanced water field with Aquafina Alive. The extension of the $523 million Aquafina brand is low in calories and vitamin enhanced. Each of the three flavors, Berry Pomegranate, Peach Mango and Orange Lime, are made with a splash of fruit juice.
Coca-Cola’s Dasani ranks third on IRI’s Top 10 and expanded its brand with the addition of Dasani Plus this spring. Flavored and fortified, the line is available in three formulations all with zero calories. Cleanse + Restore, Refresh + Revive, and Defend + Protect all have added vitamins and minerals to achieve their individual intended benefits.
Coca-Cola-owned Odwalla also announced its new line of H2Odwalla enhanced waters. Launched in February, H2Odwalla comes in five flavors with organic ingredients and is sweetened with evaporated cane juice. The line is focused around a Replenishment theme and features flavors such as Jasmine Lime, Ginger Plum and Blueberry Tea.
Known for its quirky soft drinks, Jones Soda introduced its 24C line early this summer. The line of vitamin-enhanced waters and powdered drink mixes are formulated to provide daily requirements of several vitamins and minerals. 24C launched in six flavors, including Mandarin Orange and Berry Pomegranate.
Following the revamp of its traditional sparkling water line, Clearly Canadian introduced a new line of natural enhanced water this spring. Available in dailyHydration, dailyEnergy, and dailyVitamin, each formulation has two fruit flavored options. All are made with artesian Canadian water and vary in flavor from traditional Lemon to tangy Pink Grapefruit.
The combination of fruit flavors and water also appeared in premium waters by O Beverages as well as new entries. Kraft reintroduced its Fruit20 line in April, now with fruit flavors as well as functional benefits. Last month, Pepsi’s Tropicana brand introduced Fruit Squeeze. Tropical Tangerine, Summer Lemon, Pink Grapefruit and Lime Raspberry all have a ‘squeeze’ of Tropicana fruit juice and 20 calories per serving.
Among IRI’s Top 10 brands, only two are strictly flavored water brands. Pepsi’s Propel Fitness water extends from its Gatorade sports drink line and had $194 million in sales. The brand also released stick packs for on-the-go mixing of the product.
Just above Propel is Glacéau’s Vitaminwater with $226 million in sales. This year, Vitaminwater added a new Lemon-Lime flavor with electrolytes as well as Vitaminwater XXX, which is flavored with antioxidant-rich acai, blueberry and pomegranate. The brand also made headlines following last month’s sale to Coca-Cola.
Getting water into lunch boxes was a focus for other companies as well. Vitaminwater rolled out 12-ounce packaging of its most popular flavors. Kids Only LLC, Westborough, Mass., uses cartoon characters Spiderman, Scooby-Doo and Bratz to entice children.
Other companies have added hints of flavor to encourage sipping. Wateroos, San Francisco, added Berry and Grape flavors to its lineup of all-natural water in a box. In addition, Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid and Kraft’s Capri Sun added flavored waters in flexible pouches.
Soft drinks slim downThe better-for-you beverage trend has not worsened the slump carbonated soft drinks have been experiencing, but it has not helped either. Combined data from IRI and ACNielsen show the category dropped 3.8 percent this year. On the bright side, that’s a 0.01 percent improvement since 2005.
Overall, the CSD category saw few new product introductions as traditional CSD manufacturers focused on expanding their portfolios in energy drinks, juice, water and tea. Out of the vast lineups from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes, only 14 brands showed positive gains in 2006. In terms of new products, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo released mostly no-calorie formulations.
Coca-Cola reported small gains worldwide, but North American case volume declined 2 percent from the prior year. Trademark Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta had 3 percent gains globally, while in North America, CSD/energy drink hybrid Vault, Fresca and Fanta reported gains.
Part of Coca-Cola’s focus was the development of its Coca-Cola Zero brand. The no-calorie soda is formulated with a blend of sweeteners, aspartame and acesulfame potassium to taste more like trademark Coca-Cola than Diet Coke. The brand launched in June 2005, and reported an 82 percent increase in sales in 2006.
The Coke Zero line also was extended, welcoming Cherry Coke Zero in February and Vanilla Coke Zero in May. The company also re-introduced regular Vanilla Coke, which had been pulled from shelves at the end of 2005. Another addition to the portfolio was Diet Coke Plus. Boasting the same taste as the No. 1 diet CSD, Diet Coke Plus has added vitamins and minerals.
PepsiCo experienced single-digit declines for flagship Pepsi and Mountain Dew, but that was offset by single-digit increases for its Sierra Mist lineup.
Pepsi also unveiled a massive marketing and repackaging campaign at the start of 2007. Aimed at attracting a younger demographic, Pepsi-Cola cans, bottles and cups will receive new graphics every few weeks. The graphics, some designed by celebrities, will change 35 times this year to reflect images of sports, music, fashion and cars. The company also introduced limited-edition aluminum Mountain Dew bottles in May. As part of the Green Label Art campaign, the packages will feature rotating designs through October.
In addition, Pepsi was active in launching no-calorie formulations this year. Its diet CSDs experienced slight increases in the fourth quarter of 2006. The company reported a 7.4 increase in sales for Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi. It also rolled out a sampling program for its reformulated Diet Mountain Dew. Now with a blend of sweeteners, 3 million cans of Diet Mountain Dew were handed out in cities nationwide.
The caffeine content of Diet Mountain Dew was used as a benchmark in materials for Pepsi’s latest extension, Diet Pepsi Max. Released nationwide last month, Diet Pepsi Max packs one-third more caffeine than the citrus soda and has added ginseng.
For consumers turning to CSDs for a sweet fix, Pepsi rolled out Jazz last July. Pepsi Jazz is a no-calorie cola that taps into sweet cravings with its flavors. Initially launched in Black Cherry French Vanilla and Strawberries & Cream, Jazz added Caramel Cream flavor in March. Flavors are another focus for a rumored fall launch. Pepsi plans to release Tava with Caribbean-inspired flavors and bills it as a “sparkling fortified fruit drink.”
While the company’s beverage division is mired in sales talks, Cadbury Schweppes reported the smallest sales decrease of the soft drink giants. To boot, the company’s Sunkist and A&W flavors posted the largest gains with 9.4 percent and 7 percent, respectively. The company also unified its diet line with updated packaging that spanned its Sunkist, A&W, Canada Dry and 7 UP product lines.
Its Diet 7 UP also launched in a reformulated version this spring. The new formulation touts more lemon-lime taste and features aspartame and acesulfame potassium as sweeteners. In addition, regular 7 UP began a marketing campaign for its “100 percent natural flavors” following controversy with its “all natural” tagline. Some consumer groups had taken issue with the characterization of high fructose corn syrup as an all-natural ingredient.
The company’s flagship Dr Pepper also received new packaging as well as line extensions. Dr Pepper’s Soda Fountain Classics line experienced declines from its initial release last year. Its Cherry Vanilla flavor had a 36 percent decrease, but it did extend the line with Berries & Cream last spring.
Tea continues hot streakReady-to-drink teas may be served cold, but the category is on a hot streak. It is the only category this year that continued building on past year increases. In 2005, the category reported a 12.8 percent increase, last year a 22.6 percent increase and this year sales have jumped 29.5 percent.
Whether it’s the healthy benefits of tea or the plethora of varieties and flavors, consumers are flocking to the category. Introductions include a new “blue” tea as well as a wide variety of flavors to complement the white, green, black and red variations already on the market.
Extending the colors of tea, New Leaf from Skae Beverage International, Orangeburg, N.Y., released a line of blue teas in the spring. The product gets its name from the hue of oolong tea. The company partnered the tea with Lemon, Peach and Raspberry flavors that are organically sweetened. It also revamped the packaging on its entire line of teas.
While the focus had shifted to green, red and white teas, a few companies reintroduced their traditional black tea lines. The category’s No. 2 brand, Lipton, was re-branded as Pure Leaf and rolled out in six options of black tea in addition to green and white this spring. In April, Snapple re-branded its Classic Black Tea range with Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Orange Pekoe varieties. The brand holds the No. 3 position on IRI’s Top 10 canned and bottled tea with its extensive lineup of plain, sweetened and flavored white, green, diet green, red and classic black teas.
Flavors also extend the reach of tea. The category’s No. 1 seller, Arizona iced tea, blended its teas with 50 percent juice for a new option. Debuting in late 2006, Arizona offers Apple, Pomegranate and White Grape Green Teas. In May, Kraft introduced Tazo Iced Teas in White Cranberry, Berryblossom White, Diet Green Mojito and Diet Giant Peach. Bethesda, Md.’s Honest Tea’s newest addition Pomegranate White Tea with Acai combines trendy high-antioxidant ingredients.
Also combining traditional flavors with tea, Sweet Leaf, Austin, Texas, rolled out new packaging for its Tea and Half and Half line of tea mixed with Lemonade. Relative newcomer Pom introduced Pom Tea, which blends its Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice with green and black tea. The line extended from its initial reusable single-serve glass to a larger jug due to its popularity.
Extending its bottled iced tea line, Republic of Tea, Novato, Calif., worked with women’s nutrition brand Luna for a new line. Republic of Tea’s Luna iced tea range was introduced in March in five flavors and the teas feature Luna’s color scheme and graphics from its nutrition bars.
Also formulating tea with health benefits, Ito En, Brooklyn, N.Y., partnered with well-known integrative medicine doctor Andrew Weil to develop a line of tea beverages. The Dr. Andrew Weil for Tea line was introduced this spring in 245-ml. cans of RTD teas as well as loose-leaf teas.
In addition to its Gold Peak line, Coca-Cola partnered with Nestlé to bring a calorie-burning tea-based beverage to market. Enviga uses the EGCG in green tea to reportedly burn calories. The brand reported more than $16 million in sales in its debut year. Building on the functional platform, Coca-Cola announced plans to create a tea-based nutraceutical beverage with cosmetics company L’Oreal. The company also acquired Fuze Beverage LLC, Englewood, N.J., early this year.
RTD coffee gets re-animatedIn the ready-to-drink coffee sector, iced coffee is hot. Starbucks’ Iced Coffee found its niche and fellow chain Caribou Coffee is getting into the mix with an RTD deal with Coca-Cola. In addition to other entries and popular favorites, the category reported a nearly 20 percent increase in sales according to IRI data.
Seattle’s Starbucks has built a brand that is nearly synonymous with coffee. It also has expanded this appeal with its RTD options that have a stronghold on the market. Starbucks’ Frappuccino, Doubleshot, Iced Coffee and Doubleshot Light hold four places on IRI’s Top 10 RTD coffee list. Together, the brands, which are made through a venture with PepsiCo, boast $233 million in sales in a category where sales total $254 million.
Competitor Coca-Cola is still building its RTD coffee portfolio. In addition to the cola/coffee fusion soft drink, Coca-Cola Blak, the company released Godiva Belgian Blends nationally last summer. The product blends coffee with indulgent flavors such as French Vanilla, Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate and is now the No. 6 brand, according to IRI data.
In November, Coca-Cola announced a partnership with Caribou Coffee and will launch the products this summer. The line of RTD iced coffees is positioned as premium and will be available in Regular Iced Coffee, Vanilla Iced Coffee and Iced Coffee Plus Espresso.
Also introduced last year, BYB Brands, Charlotte, N.C., rolled out Cinnabon Premium RTD coffees. The line ranks seventh on IRI’s list for its sales of Cinnabon Vanilla Latte, Carmel Nut Latte, Espresso & Cream and Mocha Latte. The drinks also are formulated to be all natural. Initially launched in the Southeast United States, Cinnabon coffees have expanded distribution through a partnership with Cadbury Schweppes.
Weighing in at No. 4 on the list are Bolthouse’s RTD coffee-based smoothies. The California-company’s lineup is stocked in the produce section and is mostly made up of juice and smoothies, but its two coffee-based Perfectly Protein options have garnered $11 million in sales. In April, the company introduced Hazelnut Latte, which is based on Arabica coffee and accented with low-fat milk, whey protein and a touch of roasted hazelnut.
In contrast to the chilled options, self-heating coffees from OnTech’s Hillside Coffee brand also made the Top 10. The California company’s self-heating package offers the convenience of heating its four varieties of coffee on demand. The products are available in Hazelnut Latte, Mocha Latte, Double Shot Latte and French Vanilla Latte.
Magic of juice boosts salesWith new information on the benefits of fruit juice, sales for both bottled shelf stable and refrigerated juices were up 4 percent this year. Beyond traditional vitamin C benefits, it was reported that orange juice also may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, among other benefits. Despite supply issues, this year yielded a plentiful harvest for functional varieties, premium and organic bases and new varieties of juice.
This year saw both Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo increase the prices of their orange juice due to crop shortages. Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid and Simply Orange brands increased 9 to 11 percent; while Pepsi’s Tropicana and Dole brands raised 4 to 8 percent. Consumers were not deterred as orange juice boasted $2.8 billion in sales and a 3 percent increase, according to IRI’s figures.
The sales figures could have led to extensions from the brands. Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid introduced a line of enhanced orange juices fortified for specific benefits. The line includes Minute Maid Active with added glucosamine, Heart Wise with plant sterols for cholesterol reduction, and 16 added vitamins and minerals are in the Multi-Vitamin variety.
In April, Minute Maid introduced Breakfast Blends. A line of citrus-based juices that provide 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin C in Citrus, Tropical and Berry flavors. Also from the beverage giant, Simply Orange announced in May that it will add single-serve carafes of orange juice to its lineup, and announced it will expand the line to include Apple and Grapefruit varieties as well. Last month, Coca-Cola inked a deal with Campbell Soup to distribute V8 juices and Campbell’s tomato juice.
At Pepsi, Tropicana introduced Pure Premium juices last fall. The upscale juices are stocked in the produce section in arched bottles. The brand also introduced Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Omega-3 for heart health benefits. Last month, the brand announced a new 100 percent juice Organic line. Tropicana Organics launched with Orchard Medley and Orange Juice varieties.
Organic is a hot topic in the juice arena. In addition to Tropicana, Florida’s Natural, Tree Ripe, Old Orchard and Mott’s brands all released organic varieties this year. Whether it’s a single fruit juice or a blend, organic is a differentiator that helps appeal to discerning consumers.
Premium also has become a key word for juice. The move to the produce section has set some brands, such as Pom Wonderful and Bolthouse Farms, apart while others emphasize their upscale bases. The premiumization of the category inspired PepsiCo to acquire smoothie company Naked Juice in late 2006. The Azusa, Calif.-company is known for its juice smoothies that have a pound of fruit in every bottle. PepsiCo also acquired sparkling juice maker Izze to expand its portfolio.
For parents concerned about a product’s makeup, 100 percent juice blends offer an option. Kraft brand Capri Sun released a 100 percent juice pouch last month. Nestlé’s Juicy Juice expanded the reaches of children’s juices with Harvest Surprise. Similar to the remainder of the Juicy Juice lineup, Harvest Surprise is 100 percent juice, but combines fruit and vegetable juices.
Products, such as Frutzzo’s line of pomegranate blends, continue the popularity of the high-antioxidant fruit. Yet, consumers are looking for the next big thing, which has juice producers getting creative. In the past year new varieties of acai, cherry, plum, watermelon and aloe vera juices have come to market â€” all touting their health benefits.
Sports drink rookies rush inSimilar to professional sports, the sports drink category has its own stars. Powerhouse brands Gatorade and Powerade continue to dominate. But new brands â€” with a competitive edge â€” are adding to the category. Their formulations appeal to industry trends, such as natural and organic formulations.
Gatorade continues to dominate the competition and though some of its flavors slipped, others boasted increases. The brand’s largest gainer was Gatorade Rain, which is formulated for a lighter flavor that finishes clean, according to the company. Rain experienced a 376 percent increase, according to IRI data, and introduced a new Strawberry-Kiwi flavor early this year. Its newest formulation, Gatorade A.M., rolled out in December and racked up $21 million in sales for a spot in the Top 10. It was formulated to replenish fluids and energy lost during sleep and comes in breakfast-inspired flavors such as Orange Strawberry.
Coca-Cola’s Powerade holds two spots in IRI’s Top 10, but was not active in launching new products this year. Following the company’s purchase of Glacéau, Coca-Cola announced the Vitaminwater-maker will run its Powerade brand.
Another CSD giant, Cadbury Schweppes joined the arena with the acquisition of the Accelerade brand from PacificHealth Laboratories. Unlike its competitors, the brand uses a protein base to fuel workouts. The drink has a patented four-to-one carbohydrate-to-protein ratio and re-launched in four flavors.
For athletes who are concerned about the natural appeal of their sports drinks, several rookie formulations are going all natural. Made by R.W. Knudsen Family, Orrville, Ohio, Recharge is made with 50 percent juice, water and sea salt for a natural source of electrolytes. Also emphasizing its wholesome roots is LIV Natural by Princeton, N.J.-based Ritorna Natural. The brand launched in the summer of 2006 in the initial Lemon and Berry flavors and added an Orange flavor this spring.
Craft, import beers relieve sluggish salesThe U.S. beer industry is battling its way back from several years of sluggish sales. Brewers shipped 207.6 million 31-gallon barrels of beer last year, up from 2005’s 203.5 million, and per capita consumption of beer edged slightly higher to 30.3 gallons per person (age 21 and older) in the United Sates, according to the Beer Institute, Denver.
Beer’s mainstay brands, including Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller Light and Coors Light, continued their market dominance, but consumers are considering imports and craft beers more than in the past. Consumers’ sense of adventure or desire for a change of pace could be why IRI data reports a 9 percent increase in sales of imported beer and 17 percent rise in sales for craft beer.
Although domestic beers experienced a 0.7 percent decrease, the major breweries are not considered down for the count. Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, carries the No. 1 and No. 2 selling domestic beers with its Bud Light and Budweiser brands, respectively. But the company has reinvented itself under the control of its new President and Chief Executive Officer August Busch IV. The brewery restructured its sales organization to be closer to key retail customers, placed a greater focus on new product development and new partnerships with import and craft beers. It made notable additions to its portfolio, including Grolsch, Goose Island, Stella Artois, Rolling Rock and Tiger beers. Anheuser-Busch also placed renewed focused on on-premise channels, promoting its brands in nightclubs, bars and restaurants.
Another brewer that has used on-premise momentum to boost sales is Molson Coors Brewing Co., Golden, Colo. The company’s Blue Moon has quietly turned into one of the hottest brands in the beer business, selling a reported 400,000 barrels in 2006. The Belgian-style wheat beer has performed well in on- and off-premise outlets alike. Coors’ flagship product, Coors Light, also fared well during the past year, with 2.6 percent growth in FDM outlets.
Of the three major U.S. brewers, Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, Wis., struggled most during the past year. During the first half of the 2007 financial year, SABMiller reported its North American operations lost 1 percent revenue growth, and the company indicated full-year 2006 sales were up 1 percent. Miller Lite held onto its spot at No. 3 in IRI’s Top 10, reporting only incremental 0.2 percent growth. Despite new packaging, Miller Genuine Draft fell nearly 7 percent this year.
While mainstream brands have been sluggish, imports and craft beers have the industry buzzing. Import beers brought in nearly $2 billion in sales from FDM outlets. Within imports, nine brands in IRI’s Top 10 brand experienced increases. Craft beers report similar success in FDM outlets with only one brand, Redhook, showing negative numbers.
Mexican imports Corona Extra and Corona Light hold the No. 1 and No. 3 spots on the Top 10 list of imports, respectively. This fall, the brand, which had previously been handled by Gambrinus Co., San Antonio, Texas, moved under the control of Crown Imports. The Chicago-based company now handles national distribution for the popular import brands.
Heineken Premium Light was a stand out success in the import category. In its first year on the market, Heineken Premium Light reported 531 percent growth. The brand expands on the success of regular Heineken, which occupies the No. 2 spot on IRI’s Top 10 import brands.
Craft beers were up almost 12 percent overall in 2006, according to the Brewers Association, based in Boulder, Colo. The industry produced more than 6.6 million barrels of beer last year. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif., is the top seller through measured retail channels, and enjoyed dollar sales gains of 6 percent in FDM outlets. Boston Beer, maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, is the largest of the craft brewers, and its flagship product also pulled in large increases during the past year, with nearly 12 percent in FDM outlets.
For the next year, an upcoming trend predicted by Euromonitor’s Anne Nugent is flavored beers. Michelob released its Ultra Fruit Infused Beers last month. Miller rolled out its Chill nationally, taken from Mexican chelada-style beers that mix beer with lime and salt. Several seasonal options combined fruit flavors and beer, such as Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.
Rise of 'cocktail culture' lifts spiritsThe chic and sophisticated pull of a “cocktail culture” raised sales in the spirits category. Both flavored spirits and premium brands have experienced a boost in popularity due to consumers, especially the newly legal crowd’s desire for specially crafted drinks. From an energy drink-vodka mix to Grey Goose martini, consumers of all legal drinking ages are turning to spirits, which led to a 2.8 percent retail sales growth experienced by the spirits category, IRI data states.
One category benefiting from the attention is vodka. Smirnoff, Absolut and Skyy all rank in IRI’s Top 10 spirits brands and the category has seen no shortage of new flavors and combinations.
“We’ve seen continued growth in vodka, which may be part of the mixed drinks, cocktail and energy drink combinations,” Euromonitor’s Nugent explains. “Vodka seems to be growing with younger consumers who want it mixed with energy drinks in a sophisticated cocktail or super-premium brand. There has been growth across the gamut.”
Super-premium brand Grey Goose grew this year, with nearly 20 percent increase in sales. The brand also expanded its flavored options with its pear-flavored La Poire variety. Absolut, which has caused a stir regarding its possible sale, introduced its own pear option in February. In March, the Swedish government placed Absolut’s parent company, V&S Vin & Spirit, up for sale. Rumors have been swirling as to which company may pick up the government-owned home of the IRI’s No. 5 spirits brand.
Virtually every spirit category received new flavored additions this year. Taking inspiration from the produce section, Svedka released clementine-flavored vodka, Stolichnaya debuted blueberry-flavored vodka, and Bacardi recently released Peach Red variety of rum. Another trend in flavors has spirits headed to the Caribbean, including Malibu rum’s Banana flavor and DeKuyper’s lineup of Tropical Mango, Papaya and Pineapple Coconut liqueurs. Gin also welcomed a new offering as Tanqueray introduced a variety flavored with Rangpur limes.
Pernod Ricard’s Baileys and Kahlua brands innovated from their traditional liqueur roots. Baileys courted dessert cocktails with new Mint Chocolate and Caramel varieties, which may have helped it crack IRI’s Top 10 best-selling spirits this year. Coffee-flavored Kahlua continued that inspiration with French Vanilla and Hazelnut flavors released in March.
A brand not really built around its flavor, Jägermeister, also is making waves. Euromonitor International’s “Spirits in the USA 2007” report singled out Jägermeister for its activity. The report attributes Jägermeister’s recent 25 percent growth to tapping into young consumers with signature cocktails, especially those mixed with energy drinks.
Euromonitor also points to the premium end of the spirits business for the growth. From bourbon to tequila, consumers are learning about the intricacies of premium-positioned spirits and allowing the ceiling on spirits prices to rise. Premium positioning is helping grow tequila as well. Formerly regarded as a mixer, new premium tequila brands were launched by Skyy Spirits, Pernod Ricard, Jose Cuervo and Beam Global this year.
Healthy living leads to wineFrom Baby Boomers hoping to live longer to younger consumers hoping to look sophisticated, wine continues to draw consumers. According to IRI data, sales in food, drug and mass merchandise outlets have increased 9.7 percent during the past year. As shown in beer and spirits, the growth in economy and premium brands brought in all ages.
This year’s top-seller, Australian wine brand Yellow Tail, is part of a phenomenon that Euromonitor International’s Nugent explains as “critter brands.”
“In the United States and Canada, we’ve seen a trend toward simplified labeling,” says the alcohol drinks account manager. “These ‘critter brands’ have launched various brands from other countries, such as Yellow Tail, because they become part of a mix in the supermarkets.”
Another occurrence in wine this year was the return of the popularity of bag-in-box wines. Value-minded consumers are reviving the packaging option. High-quality wines are now being branded in 3- and 5-liter “casks” that emphasize freshness and moderation.
The majority of IRI’s Top 10 wine brands are domestically produced, but a wine’s origin has become an important differentiator as well. Nugent explains the acquisitions made by major wine makers have signified this move.
“We’re seeing all major players building major portfolios with add-ons to ranges,” she says. “E&J Gallo Winery, for example, added Italian, French and Spanish companies and Constellation Brands Inc. recently partnered with a South African winery. The United States, in particular, is seeing a surge in imported wine. These agreements allow for price competition, which is key, and enters into the country of origin competition.”
Dairy drinks for all agesWhether they’re replenishing an adult on-the-go or providing necessary nutrition for a child, dairy drinks have come into their own. New flavors and fortification options have extended the appeal of dairy drinks.
School nutrition guideline changes created an obstacle for flavored milk products. In some districts, such as New York City, flavored milk options were banned, while in others flavored milks do not fit the calorie options. Nestlé’s Nesquik and Bravo! Slammers both have introduced 8-ounce sizes to return to school lunch programs. Nesquik also ensured its packaging was aseptic for school kitchens short on refrigerator space.
Also for kids, Bravo Foods International, North Palm Beach, Fla., introduced Franken Berry and Boo Berry flavored milks for the Halloween season. The company added Trix and Cocoa Puff flavors to the lineup in September.
Glendale, Calif-based Nestlé began test marketing Quik Start, a breakfast replacement drink, in May. Quik Start is currently available in the northeast in chocolate, peach and cappuccino flavors.
Also indulgent, ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s released their Milkshakes last fall. The drink line, which is distributed by Pepsi, ranks No. 6 on IRI’s list with $3.5 million in inaugural sales. The creamy drinks were inspired by Ben & Jerry’s iconic Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey and Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavors.