As the beverage industry expands, the word hydration is appearing more and more as a component of positioning statements and product benefits.
As the beverage industry expands, the word hydration is appearing more and more as a component of positioning statements and product benefits. A 2018 self-report survey of 1,043 adults conducted by water-systems company Quench (King of Prussia, PA) found that 77% of American workers don’t drink enough water to meet their daily health needs. Millennial survey respondents said their primary reason for not drinking water at work is they don’t feel thirsty.1
As even mild dehydration can lead to undesirable effects such as tiredness, reduced concentration, and headaches2, some consumers are actively seeking out hydration solutions that meet their needs and improve workplace performance. Consumer needs are driving growth in the hydration space, with premium hydration beverages seeing a 2.9% per-year increase in consumption rates from 2003 to 2013.3
While water is by its very nature hydrating, scientific research and product innovation are opening up new avenues for increasing cellular hydration through smarter drink formulations. For this reason, the hydration beverage industry is ripe with opportunity for savvy brands. Here are three of the emerging trends that will define the hydration industry.
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Hydration Goes Veggie: Plant-Based Options Grow
Hydration beverages are following the larger food and beverage trend of plant-based ingredients, with more and more plant waters and fruit/vegetable blended drinks positioning themselves as hydration beverages. Plant-based waters like chlorophyll water, pressed lettuce water, and electrolyte-enriched sweet potato water are gaining popularity as hydration options.4
The branded V8 +Hydrate by Campbell’s, for instance, uses a combination of natural plant-sourced electrolytes and sweet potato juice to provide rapid hydration through a 3:1 potassium-sodium ratio.
But perhaps the most interesting innovation in plant-based hydration isn’t the kinds of vegetables and plants involved, but the type of water itself.
Structured water, which can be sourced from aloe, watermelons, and chia seeds, is now undergoing clinical research to determine its nutritional value and hydration benefits. University of Waikato exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, PhD, (Hamilton, New Zealand) told Shape magazine in July 2018 that plant-sourced structured water is a more effective hydration method than typical water because its higher osmolality means it is more effectively absorbed.5 As this “gel water” continues to undergo scientific study, expect more consumers to look for it on store shelves.
4. Telford H. “Plant-based hydration and clean energy.” Natural Product Insider. Published online June 26, 2018. https://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/beverages/plant-based-hydration-and-clean-energy
5. Ketchiff M. “Gel water is the new health drink trend that will change the way you hydrate.” Shape. Published online July 19, 2018.
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Hydrating Energy Drink: Not a Contradiction
At first glance, the terms “hydration” and “energy drink” don’t look like they belong in the same product description. But for beverage brand Zola (San Francisco, CA), it’s a natural fit.
Zola’s product, a sparkling coconut water infused with caffeine extracted from green coffee beans, is a combination energy-hydration beverage. Consumer demand for cleaner, healthier energy drinks is prompting companies like Zola to innovate and come up with creative new products that blur category boundaries.
Zola’s product leverages the higher potassium concentration in coconut water as a means of influencing the sodium-potassium pump, which alters the osmotic pressure of cells in the body and improves their ability to absorb water.6 A single 355-ml serving of Zola contains 280 mg of potassium, as well as 120 mg of caffeine sourced from green tea, green coffee bean, and yerba mate extracts. The result, Zola claims, is a beverage that offers as much of an energy boost as two shots of espresso, without having a dehydrating effect.
6. Hydrant beverage brand website. “Potassium and hydration.” Published online May 29, 2018. https://www.drinkhydrant.com/blogs/news/potassium-and-hydration
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Influencer Marketing Gains Popularity
Hydration beverage brands are changing the way they market their products, with influencer marketing becoming a popular strategy. Whether by taking on celebrity spokespeople or accepting celebrity investments, hydration drink companies are leveraging the fame and power of influencers to gain market share.
Last year, for instance, functional drink company CORE Nutrition LLC (El Segundo, CA) implemented an influencer marketing campaign for its CORE Hydration line of pH-balanced mineral- and electrolyte-enriched purified waters. CORE Nutrition partnered with one of its many celebrity investors, singer-songwriter Demi Lovato, for its “Sorry Not Sorry” content marketing campaign. The campaign, named after Lovato’s 2017 song, consists of a series of CORE-branded videos in which Lovato provides viewers with rapid-fire “life hack” advice oriented around finding balance in life.7
Influencer marketing is a relatively new marketing strategy, but one that is rapidly gaining popularity. Forbes declared 2017 to be The Year of the Influencer8, and since then, influencer marketing has seen widespread adoption at an impressive rate. On Instagram alone, sponsored posts from influencers grew by 39% in 2018, and influencer-backed sponsored content saw significantly more views than other kinds of sponsored content.9
Other hydration brands like Peak Hydrate (Laguna Beach, CA), Essentia Water (Bothell, WA), and even Gatorade (Chicago, IL) have forged partnerships with a variety of influencers, including NASCAR driver John Hunter Nemechek, NFL player J.J. Watt, and lifestyle blogger Molly Hogan. As executives gain more awareness of influencer marketing, expect more hydration brands to start forging partnerships with celebrities and social media influencers.
7. CORE Nutrition. “CORE Hydration partners with Demi Lovato.” Drinkpreneur. Published online June 18, 2018. https://www.drinkpreneur.com/beverage-industry-news/marketing/core-hydration-partners-with-demi-lovato/
8. Ehlers K. “2017: The year of the influencer.” Forbes. Published online February 23, 2017.
9. Hutchinson A. “New report looks at the growth of influencer marketing on Instagram.” Social Media Today. Published online January 17, 2019. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/new-report-looks-at-the-growth-of-influencer-marketing-on-instagram/546245/
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Healthy Hydration Market Set to Grow
The hydration beverages market is expected to continue growing in the coming years. Global sales of plant-based waters in particular are expected to reach over $2.7 billion per year by 2020, and the niche is expected to diversify product offerings as manufacturers continue to innovate.10 As consumers continue to search for healthy alternatives to soft drinks, sports drinks, and other specialty beverages, expect hydration beverages to benefit from positive buyer associations with water.
10. Arthur R. “Plant-based water sales predicted to double by 2020.” Beverage Daily. Published online January 27 2017. https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2017/01/26/Plant-based-water-sales-predicted-to-double-by-2020
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