Managers can work on different associations made by the consumer concerning soft drinks and carbonated soft drink market. People buy this kind of product for functional reason that is to say because of the product’s attributes and characteristics providing for example pleasure, good tasting…. So people buy drinks because of the product itself, providing different kind of benefits for the consumer. We have talked about consumer insights, which managers can use to innovate and develop/adapt their products. But the main innovations in carbonated soft drink market are studied and provided by companies, and they continue to evolve in line with changing consumer needs. Trends drive consumer purchasing behavior and innovation. In the carbonated soft drink market, consumers behave mostly as in the global soft drink market, but there are key trends we can outline.
Taste is primordial. People can change from a brand to another in order to test new things that will probably provide them pleasure. People are looking for authenticity or originality for example. But what makes soft drinks so successful is also the range. Indeed, when the market is well segmented, the offer will be more adapted to each target market. Many companies have understood that, and provide different flavors for the consumer. Flavored water; lemon, vanilla, cherry flavored CSDs are examples among many others in soft drink market.
New product innovation is driven by consumer demand for more unique and experimental flavor combinations. Over two thirds of consumers are willing to experiment with new foods and beverages, offering plenty of opportunity for product development.
Health benefit is the mega-trend on these last years. It is also a trend that is growing (face à) the increasing concerns of the society regarding the origin of food they buy, the components/ingredients of products, the consequences on health… Consumers, but also associations are government get involved in these issues, trying to (sensibiliser) to food habits. Sodas are very criticized on that sector, whatever the attributes of the products. They are considered dangerous and unhealthy, causing irreversible damages. A lot of consumers and associations keep warning on Colas bad effect on internet, through articles, videos, forums… Though, it is important to be vigilant and to show the company’s concern about it. That is the role of marketing and branding, massively used in soda industry in order to keep competitive advantage by creating brand equity.
This benefit is definitely a trend managers can use to work on innovative projects in order to associate products to consumer’s expectations.
Customization is a growing trend in all sectors and domains. People switch more and more, not only brands but also habits and in their daily life. They want what they need right here and right now, and brands have to adapt to that. Drinks customization is thus an emerging trend in carbonated soft drinks which looks set to continue as customizable products such as the Coca-Cola Freestyle soda fountains become main-stream. Products that enable consumers to customize their beverages regarding their own taste preferences represent a significant opportunity for manufacturers and brands to fill.
Online engagement is a key tool for carbonated drinks manufacturers to implement with consumers. This trend is rapidly growing in importance as technology and social media platforms evolve, especially as the target is young people and tech savvy. They represent a key consumer group, the most active on Internet. Social media, interaction with consumers, brand content, brand culture…are a tiny aspect of what media should do to attract their consumer and get engaged with them. Online engagement with consumers appears to be the best way to know its customers by interacting with them, to study their behavior and to respond to it. That is the battle of many brands today, among which Coca Cola and Pepsi are representative and important examples.
Emotional insight. Emotions play an enormous role in how consumers operate. Emotions drive people’s decisions, trigger actions, and direct beliefs. The emotion a brand or a product or a campaign evokes to a consumer directly contributes to its market success, or failure. Marketers understand this and have invested huge resources into the collection, analysis, and study of human emotion. A quick look to the money spent on focus groups and/or consumer one-on-ones by agencies constitute a proof. If brands get interested in it, it is because it is a very distinctive criteria in a business context and a competitive sector. By a best understanding of consumer emotions, brands can design programs that attract and retain consumers.
By examining emotion in social media discussions marketers not only earn accurate portrayals of consumer sentiment, they do so in ways that are extraordinarily efficient. As noticed before, social media offers marketers a truly guilt-free peak at consumers' diaries.