How Specialty Sodas Are Disrupting The Beverage Industry | Forbes

By September 10, 2018Beverage trends

In this post, we analyze a few interesting trends in the beverage industry, a segment of the consumer space that is experiencing significant changes due to increasing health consciousness, changing consumption habits, and ethics-driven diets.

Craft Sodas Taking An Increasing Market Share

The first trend we analyzed is the growing popularity of craft sodas, which has created challenges for traditional beverage mass-producers. Like other trends in the food/drinks industry, the growth of craft sodas has been fueled by the increased health-consciousness of consumers, the desire for premium/quality products, and the preference for specific ingredients due to ethical reasons. From the increased use of “organic” and “local” ingredients, to the higher adoption of brown sugar at the expense of the more popular refined alternative, we have seen interesting trends shaping customer habits and opening new market opportunities.

At the same time, traditional sodas are under scrutiny and doubted by consumers due to their high sugar content and obscure ingredients lists, in a moment when consumer appetite for non-alcoholic consumption has risen significantly by people making healthier lifestyle choices.

We used Sentieo to analyze the demand for craft soda. We’ll take a quick but in-depth look at which companies are exposed to the new trend and how they are trying to benefit from it. We searched documents to identify the companies that are very active in this segment, such as Reed’s Inc., which, according to its company presentations, aims to become “the Sam Adams of Craft Carbonated Soft Drinks.”

However, the growing popularity of these drinks is also creating an opportunity for smaller operators and for restaurant chains that offer their own crafted sodas — like BJ’s Restaurants (BJRI) and Bagger Dave (BDVB). This trend is a potential threat for mass producers and a great opportunity for smaller players and the restaurant industry. They can offer their own premium drinks and generate higher margins thanks to a direct relationship with customers.

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We used alternative data to plot Google Trends data and track consumer interests. In this case, we plotted Google Trends data for the term “craft soda.” To make the trend more visible, we applied a 12-week moving average to Google Trends’ raw data below:

Google TrendsSENTIEO

As we can see, craft soda’s popularity boomed between 2011 and 2016, but remained basically flat for the past two years. Companies’ activity in this field has basically followed the trend in consumer interest highlighted by Google Trends, with a solid growth between 2011 and 2016 and a more flat trend in the past two years. This is clear when we analyze the number of mentions of the term “craft soda” in company-related documents and transcripts:

Craft Soda Document Search MentionsSENTIEO

Given the aforementioned adoption of healthier lifestyles, another acceleration of this positive trend is possible in the future.

Flavored Water Quenches Consumer Thirst

A second trend worth analyzing is the increasing popularity of flavored water, which is considered as a healthier alternative to soda drinks thanks to the absence of artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and flavor enhancers. While the debate is open and everything obviously depends on how the flavored water is actually prepared (e.g. with or without sweeteners or nutritional enhancements), the evidence is that the changing consumer preferences are boosting this segment of the beverage industry.

The growing popularity of flavored water is truly a strong and current trend. We looked at Google Trends data and noticed a massive growth in the number of searches for “flavored water” on the search engine. As in the case of flavored water, we used a 12-week moving average of the Google Trends data to make the trend more visible. This is the result:

Google TrendsSENTIEO

We can easily see how the searches for flavored water have been growing constantly since 2009, and actually skyrocketed in the first half of 2018. Companies have been increasingly active in this area as well, as the growing number of mentions of “flavored water” in company-related documents and transcripts shows:

Document MentionsSENTIEO

The companies that have invested in this segment of the beverage industry include Del Monte Pacific Limited, Sodastream International, True Drinks Holdings, Keurig Dr. Pepper, and National Beverage Corp (FIZZ), which produces the soda that has become a national phenomenon: LaCroix sparkling water.

We found a recent press release from FIZZ which details the success of LaCroix:

FIZZ Press ReleaseSENTIEO

Traditional Drinks Producers Face Mounting Competitive Pressure

The popularity of alternative drinks like craft sodas and flavored water threaten traditional beverage companies such as Coca Cola and Pepsi, especially if consumers find alternative sources for these drinks, as we have seen with craft sodas and the growing tendency of restaurant operators to produce their own drinks.

I am the co-founder and CEO of Sentieo, a modern financial research platform for investment professionals. Before founding Sentieo, I worked as an analyst in Citadel Global Equities and Viking Global Investors, where I covered global consumer equities. More information about…

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Source: Pass Me A LaCroix: How Specialty Sodas Are Disrupting The Beverage Industry