The notion of the traditional soft drink as a carbonated, high-calorie fizzy drink may have had its day in the US, according to new research suggesting consumers are flocking en masse to seemingly lighter options.
In new findings from market analyst Mintel, the number of adult consumers opting for regular carbonated varieties of soft drinks in 2008 fell by 15.6 million people compared to 2003.
Krista Faron, a senior analyst for Mintel, suggested the research reflected increasingly negative attitudes amongst US consumers to regular soda products. The analyst said that, amidst growing concern over obesity and health issues, carbonated beverages were seen as offering 'empty' calories and artificial ingredients.
"As health and wellness awareness grows, more people are turning away from old-fashioned pop and looking for healthier, lower calorie drinks, as well as drinks that offer the functionality to meet their specific lifestyle needs," stated Faron
According to the findings, an additional 7.8 million adults surveyed in November 2008 said they were now drinking diet soda products compared to respondents asked in 2003. This reflected a declining number of people drinking regular soda over the same period, with just 68 per cent of respondents consuming the products compared to 76 per cent of the 2003 survey group, stated Mintel.
Mintel said that wider societal changes regarding American consumers and healthy lifestyles were beginning to be felt in the beverage market as interest grows in fizzy drink alternatives.
In light of this change, the analyst identified three key consumer growth markets amidst declining carbonated beverage consumption.
In the five years between 2008 and 2003, the analyst said that 24 million more Americans were drinking bottled water with 11 million additional consumers turned to sports drinks.
Younger consumers in particular were picked by the analyst as playing a major role in shifting demand as energy drinks consumption was also found to have doubled by 2008 to 34.5 million, from just about 17.4 million in 2003.
As part of its latest consumer survey into the market, Mintel said that one in three beverage purchasing adults were drinking less carbonated beverages than in 2006 and opting for water in a bid to better manage weight or health conditions.
Asides from weight control, concerns about high-fructose corn syrups and artificial sweeteners have also played a significant role according to Mintel. The analyst suggested that 16 per cent of respondents claimed to have concerns about potential health risks, with 15 per cent of the study group saying they were drinking less artificially sweetened beverages.
"During the past few years, health and wellness issues have come to the forefront of people's minds, and we see that strongly reflected in their changing beverage choices," stated Faron. "Manufacturers have done well at keeping pace with people's new preferences, and we expect continued momentum in tea, coffee drinks and diet soda in particular."