BY AHMED ELAFIFI
As consumers become more conscious about the significant role that food plays in keeping them healthy, they are increasingly in search of products that support physical and mental wellbeing. Functional food products are becoming popular among consumers for this reason. The beverage industry, particularly newer entrants, has been quick to capitalise upon this trend by creating health-promoting functional beverages such as probiotic drinks or those containing added calcium.
Functional beverages are – more and more – becoming an integral part of many people’s daily lives. These drinks not only satisfy thirst, but often contain non-traditional ingredients such as herbs, vitamins, minerals and fruit and vegetables, which are designed to have a positive benefit on the consumer. Functional beverages have been around since the 1960s but it is only recently that they are starting to become more popular as consumers prioritise the needs of their mind and body whether it be mental relaxation or heightening feelings of positivity and wellbeing.
For the beverage industry, the functional drinks category presents an opportunity to grow despite the global slowdown of the soft drinks sector. This slowdown is partially the result of increasing consumer concern around the health impact of high levels of sugar and artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages. For many start-ups and small manufacturers, consumer demand for healthy and value-added beverages has been an important opportunity to quickly develop a portfolio of products to satisfy consumer needs. By their nature, these newer companies are nimble and this means they can expedite the introduction of new products.
This perception is helping drive demand for healthier food and drink options across all age groups; however it is millennials – those currently aged 25-34 – that consume functional drinks the most, according to a 2015 study commissioned by flavour manufacturers FONA. This consumer group tends to be prosperous and health-conscious, often choosing to purchase premium products that support their general health and wellbeing.
Consumer interest in this diverse industry has attracted a vast number of start-ups trying to find a unique niche in which they can thrive – whether that is the development of drinks for energy, nutrition supplements or mental relaxation and wellbeing. In my own case, I founded Tranquini Positively Relaxed in April 2015, supported by a team of beverage experts with over 200 years’ cumulative professional experience.
We produced a premium relaxation drink with ingredients that are scientifically proven to reduce stress and relieve anxiety – without causing drowsiness. Tranquini’s formula includes a combination of green tea (containing natural theanine), chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm extracts. It also contains natural flavours, is preservative-free, does not contain artificial colourants, and has about 30% fewer calories compared to most natural juices or regular sugar-based soft-drinks. It is the perfect 21st century proposition that fits the needs of today’s consumers who prioritise mindfulness and leading an actively relaxed life.
Despite finding ourselves in a crowded beverage market, we sought to differentiate ourselves by creating a brand that fits today’s consumer aspirations for a balanced lifestyle that includes active and positive relaxation in contrast to the high-energy pace of life characterised by the last two decades. This consumer-centric approach has enabled us to lead this particular functional drinks category.
A great example of this is our recently launched Feel the Flow campaign, which perfectly captures Tranquini’s philosophy and has tremendous consumer appeal. Flow is a state of being. Athletes also refer to it as being “in the zone”, while musicians talk about being “in a groove”. It means being cool, calm and collected, but focussed and therefore able to make the most out of every situation. This campaign was created to inspire people to be part of this approach to life. The campaign debut is accompanied by the launch of the brand web platform, which is populated with inspiring weekly content promoting the concept of Flow, positivity and relaxation.
Campaigns like Tranquini Feel the Flow raise general consumer awareness and demand regarding the benefits of relaxation drinks, and in the case of Tranquini, the Positively Relaxed lifestyle we want consumers to embrace, therefore contributing to the success of the global functional drinks market. There will always be a demand for the standard big soft drink brands, but over time, consumers will come to demand more from their beverages, particularly as drinks manufacturers create ever “smarter” drinks that serve an important function as well taste great. However, it is imperative that functional drink manufacturers maintain the highest standards of integrity and product quality. On our website we share numerous scientific studies proving the effectiveness of our ingredients in reducing stress and relieving anxiety to help consumers make an informed choice. This is because I believe the continuing success of the functional beverages industry in the 21st century depends on companies such as Tranquini showcasing that we offer a quality product with additional benefits other than a great taste. They just have to make a leap of faith and try one.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020