Consumers' thirst is insatiable, and beverage companies are battling to quench it. What's driving this interest? Millennials--those up to age 29. "[These consumers] have a repertoire of many drinks they [have] throughout their day, according to what their needs are," explains Judy Ramberg, vice president and consumer strategist of food and beverage for Iconoculture Inc., a Minneapolis-based consumer research and advisory services company. She says the millennials are seeking beverages that deliver the benefits promised and serve a greater purpose, such as benefiting the earth or humankind.
As the beverage industry has evolved, so have the techniques used to market drinks. Today's consumers are most responsive to methods that reach into their world, such as virtual efforts online and personalized labels, says Ramberg. Brandon Brooks is the 31-year-old founder of Pickle Juice Sport, whose pickle juice beverage has the proven benefits of preventing and stopping muscle cramps and dehydration. Brooks spread the word by sponsoring cycling events, getting the endorsement of Dallas Cowboys athlete Jason Witten and using edu-cational packaging. Launched last August, Pickle Juice Sport, based in Mesquite, Texas, projects year-end sales of about $680,000. Says Brooks, "We've seen the greatest response [from] being part of events that raise money for a good cause."
What's next for the beverage industry? Ramberg predicts consumers will demand beverages with multiple functionalities. Accessories like sophisticated cup holders and self-stirring mugs are hot, too. And if these gadgets do what they promise, Ramberg believes they just might secure a share of the profits.