With health becoming a priority for many consumers, added wellness benefits in bottled water and sports drinks will see a growing popularity in 2022.
According to research firm Mintel, non-flavored still bottled water sales increased by 8.2% in 2021.
“Basic private-label brands represent the bottled water’s foundation and remain a growing segment of (the) bottled water market, but premium lifestyle brands (e.g., Fiji, Evian) and alkaline waters (e.g., Essentia) are the fastest-growing brands within the unflavored still water segment,” said Caleb Bryant, associate director, food and drink analyst at Mintel.
For c-stores specifically, Nielsen reported total sales of unflavored single-serve water increased by 12.1% to reach $1.81 billion for the 52 weeks ending Jan.1, 2022. Flavored water saw an even larger growth at an estimated 17.9% increase in 2021, per Nielsen.
“The growth of flavored still waters such as Hint demonstrates the market potential for still waters that deliver a superior flavor experience,” added Bryant.
Functionality and Combo Flavors Thrive
Enhanced function seems to be a key preference for consumers when choosing a flavored water beverage.
Products that “blur the lines between water, juice drinks and sports drinks” indicate interest in water that serves a purpose beyond hydration, Bryant noted, citing Propel, Vitamin Water, Smartwater and Lemon Perfect as examples.
Samantha Overmohle, category manager at Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go, which operates 400-plus stores in 11 states, also noticed a growing trend toward functional drinks.
“Brands like Voss and Smartwater continue to innovate within their lines by offering added benefits like collagen or ‘immune support,’” said Overmohle.
In a response to the rise of reusable water bottles in younger generations, Bryant predicted there will be increased opportunities for powdered and liquid water enhancers in 2022. Currently, 32% of consumers of water enhancers use them for benefits such as added electrolytes and energy boosts.
Sports drinks are also thriving in the market, with a 21.2% increase, according to Nielsen. Many of them offer additional caffeine and vitamins.
“Taste and flavor will continue to be top priorities for consumers within this category,” added Overmohle in reference to sports drinks.
Combination flavors specifically are predicted to expand in 2022.
Mintel Global New Products Database sees herbal, spice and floral flavors paired with common flavors as a leading trend in packaged water product launches. Bryant listed examples of this from the database, such as Rethink Water’s Watermelon Mint Flavored Water.