Focus On The Middle East
By Vicky McCrorie
Although incomes in the Middle East still lag behind those in the United States and Europe, consumers in the region face many of the same stresses as their Western counterparts. The difficulty in maintaining a work-life balance has driven desires for health and wellness products that can ease the stress of modern life. The need for convenience has also driven consumers to seek out more efficient and effective products.
Campbell Soup Co.’s V8 vegetable drink satisfies both these trends. Recently rolled out in Israel, the 100 percent vegetable juice drink is marketed specifically for enhancing bone health. The drink comes in a single-serving bottle, making it ideal for on-the-go consumption, and is said to be enriched with as much calcium as milk. Containing tomato, carrot, celery, beet, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach juice, the drink is targeted at those consumers who do not feel they have the time to incorporate a healthy vegetable mix into their diet.
Another health drink released throughout the Middle East is SOL(e)UTION by Bomba Energy, Linz, Austria. SOL(e)UTION Anti-Aging Drinks tap into consumers’ fears of the effects of aging on physical appearance, with a formula that is said to slow cell degeneration and boost the immune system. The name comes from the German translation for brine, with the “e” representing the elements contained in the natural salt. The beverage is offered in a range of flavors including Green Tea & Jasmine, Apple & Orange and Blackcurrant & Apple that highlight consumer demand for health drinks to taste good as well as promote physical wellbeing.
Datamonitor’s research confirms that the demand for healthy drinks in the Middle East is growing. For the 12-month period to March 2006, 4.6 percent of all drink launches in the region were health drinks, compared with just 2.2 percent of all launches in the 12 months to March 2004. Although they currently make up a small percentage of the beverage market, health drinks will increasingly be requested by Middle Eastern consumers in years to come.
A less healthy “functional” drink has been launched in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by SPACElab. Alcohol Killer, a canned beverage, is promoted as being able to reduce alcohol levels in the blood, supporting the body's ability to metabolize alcohol. The beverage, fortified with vitamins C, B1, and B6, is also said to help ease hangovers. Given that alcohol is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and tightly controlled in the UAE, the launch of Alcohol Killer might seem strange. On the other hand, it is not surprising that some drinkers in these countries would want to conceal their pursuit from others.