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Refreshing experiences yield growth for beverages

As long as we keep drinking, beverage brands will have ready markets for refreshment.

As long as we keep drinking, beverage brands will have ready markets for refreshment. But it’s getting increasingly more complex to figure out what exactly drives customers to grab a drink. Beverage brands continue to pursue new initiatives to win over consumers, especially millennials, amid a changing market.

This is especially true as customers seek out a wider variety of healthier drink options due to real concerns about sugar consumption. People’s relationships to soft-drink brands are changing—going from daily staple to occasional treat—but their affinity and loyalty sees no signs of subsiding. Beverage brands continue to successfully engage people all over the world with captivating experiences and thoughtful new iterations of their products.

More personal campaigns and messaging

Beverage brands are adept at cultivating enthusiastic customers, and continue to do so by tapping into their interests and aspirations to build real connections.

Pepsi has remained loyal to the essence of its brand, leveraging the positioning it has built through the years around youth, music, and urban lifestyle. Pepsi’s latest customization strategy is designed to build connections with emotion. The PepsiMoji global campaign was their biggest sales-growth initiative of the year. More than one billion emoji-clad cans of Pepsi entered stores, reinforcing that, just as emojis reflect individuals’ moods and emotions, so can a Pepsi.

Coca-Cola is continuing and deepening its commitment to the “Share a Coke” platform that it hatched in 2014. The newest version of this ode to self-expression and to Coke features lyrics from world-famous songs. “Share a Coke and a Song” is also giving the brand the opportunity to build on its already significant inroads with millennials and millennial culture.

Sprite keeps targeting its brand toward a young demographic that is looking for authenticity. “Obey Your Thirst” remained in certain markets and evolved to “Obey Your Verse”, with lyrics-decorated cans in a co-branded effort with hip-hop stars, including Drake.

Product and packaging innovations

Beverage brands are pushing the envelope for what’s both inside and outside the bottle to capture customers’ attention and imagination. Packaging is now a crucial and competitive part of the brand experience, and new products need to keep up with rapidly shifting tastes—especially among the millennial market.

Pepsi’s latest product is 1893, a new “artisanal” premium soda brand that debuted this year, which lends itself to being mixed with liquor or enjoyed on its own. It draws from Pepsi’s own legacy and heritage, while meeting the growing taste for more crafted and bold products.

While many soft-drink companies are supplementing their portfolios with alternative beverages, Coca-Cola continues to give consumers reasons to stay loyal to its iconic flagship carbonated soft-drink brand through new packaging and offerings. The brand has turned heavily towards smaller product versions, such as eight-ounce mini cans, which give consumers the freedom to buy Coke in smaller portions if they’re concerned about calories and sugar, and are more affordable. At the same time, one of Coca-Cola’s biggest brand-building efforts of 2016 has been celebrating the centenary of its signature bottle.

Coffee brands continue to rise, including prestige coffee brand NESCAFÉ. It has shown impressive results in 2016 and has become the organic growth driver in almost all global regions for Nestle. And the company has also created a new packaging shape to replace the current round of composite containers for many in its line. Shoppers were particularly impressed by the premium feel of the metal packaging, the functionality of its shape, and the re-sealable hinged lid.

New ideas combined with careful attention to detail continue to reinvigorate and reinvent the way beverage brands present themselves to the world.

Refreshing experiences

Beyond the experience inherent in enjoying beverage brands’ products, more and more are creating entire physical, real-world extensions of their brand to win over even more fans.

Pepsi dipped into this increasingly popular marketing strategy by opening a 5,000-square-foot “brand home” in New York City called Kola House. The hybrid restaurant-bar-event-experiential marketing space aims to become a social hub as well as a customer-facing testing ground for new products since it opened in New York last spring.

Coca-Cola is taking its groundbreaking branded-content initiative literally, by putting its Journey brand of digital storytelling on the road in a 21-day cross-country storytelling expedition that seeks to link Coke more closely to communities across the US. In a way, the company’s plan to put two millennial storytellers on a 40-foot motorhome (called the Mobile Brand Publishing HQ) to visit sites around America is an extension of the emotive approach to branding that Coca-Cola has used for decades.

NESCAFÉ is shifting towards newer social platforms and digital experiences as part of its marketing mix to engage millennials, following moving its web site to Tumblr last year. The brand also launched a pioneering, 360-degree video campaign on Facebook, designed to create “real connections” with younger consumers. Fans can view the film by picking up their smartphone and pointing it in any direction to go through the reel and view different clips.

Overall, the beverage sector continues to follow a wide array of growth opportunities to chase changing tastes. As customers look for different, healthier products and change they way they consume, beverage brands continue to win their attention with immersive experiences, well-received iterations of their products, and totally new segments to explore. These businesses remain on the leading edge of innovation and branding, and keep reimagining the future of branding.

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