Coke Solutions
Beverage Trends

How to Capitalize on Flavor Trends to Increase Sales

Maximize your menu with new beverages

What new beverage flavors are popular among consumers, and what innovative varieties are emerging as favorites this year? The answers to these questions were revealed in the webinar “Beverage Trends Worth Exploring,” presented by CokeSolutions.

Culinary firm Food IQ leveraged research and analyzed consumer behaviors, industry trends and data, and menus to understand what consumers want—and how certain flavors and varieties impact core drink categories. For example, 60% of consumers say they would try a new restaurant if the menu offered interesting food and drink specials, and 66% of consumers said they like trying new or innovative coffee and tea drinks, according to global research firm Mintel.¹ These insights can guide foodservice owners and operators in creating new menu selections.

What Consumers Want                                                                                                                                    Consumers are looking for house-made elements, better-for-you options, customizable items, and more classic flavors.² While mainstream flavors include almond, citrus, ginger, and maple, there are many up and coming flavors that are proving to be successful, such as blackberry, ginger beer, grapefruit, passion fruit, and pear. ² There are also plenty of new varieties emerging this year, such as adult sodas (root beer/ginger ale+ alcohol), bacon and cotton candy garnishes, and premium waters (cactus water, aloe water).

The overall theme for 2016: consumers are open to trying innovative beverages, so think outside the box and cater to their adventurous tastes.

Flavor Focus                                                                                                                                                                There are three flavor themes that have emerged as strong leaders this year.²  

  • Coffee and Tea Craze: Specialized, flavored coffees and teas have consumers perking up. “Signature” drinks are the most prevalent on menus since 50% of restaurants are serving “plain/unflavored” options.³ According to Food IQ, there is plenty of room to add more flavors and varieties, including spicy and sweet flavors, innovative tea infusions, and matcha teas, to increase sales. Emerging flavors include jalapeno/honey, turmeric, and the bigger trend of honey crisp apple.⁴
  • Subtly Savory: This category includes ingredients such as herbs, shrubs, and spicy flavors (think ghost peppers and habaneros). Vegetables and veggie flavors are growing in popularity with “cold pressed” juices and flavored water as the most prevalent menu items.³ Offering more items with “smoked,” “fired,” or “burnt” ingredients and calling them out on menus can appeal to consumers, according to Food IQ.² Emerging flavors include pickled fruits/vegetables, smoked flavors, and sweet and spicy examples such as chipotle/pineapple, and jalapeno/honey.⁴
  • Tastebud Teasers: Sour and bitter flavors are favored as tastes continue to evolve and consumers seek new and exciting flavor experiences. For the past three years, prickly pear has been a top growing beverage flavor. Fermented ingredients are popular and provide the opportunity to add a new flavor category to your beverage menu. Emerging flavors include amaro (herbal liquor), calamansi (fruit), and tamarind (legume).² 

The key to leveraging these flavor trends is expanding menu options with new items and combinations to entice consumers. From innovative coffees and teas to interesting cocktails, juices, and waters, today’s flavor trends offer variety, excitement, and abundant opportunities for incremental sales. 

For more information on consumer sentiment and other topics, sign up for our monthly Refreshing Insights by Coca-Cola webinars.

More Webinar Recaps: 
Four Ways to Leverage Consumer Enthusiasm 
2016 Foodservice Trends: Smart Messaging and on-Demand Dining
Sustainability Is Key to Growing Your Foodservice Business

¹ Mintel Dining Out 2016 Report, January 2016
² Food IQ Flavor Forecast: Beverage Trends Worth Exploring, June 2016
³ Food IQ May 2016, Mintel Menu Insights Q1 2016
Field Agent Flavor Curve Theme Study, May 9, 2016

Published: November 15, 2016