Speaking to us as WILD exhibits at SIAL 2014 in Paris this week, Möller said the category offered a lot of room for taste innovation – for instance crossing energy with malt.
“In the energy category you perhaps have the most possibilities to play. There’s a lot of room for innovation in different tastes, if you compare energy and malt – there are some similarities,” she said.
“This nourishing aspect of a malt drink gives energy, so it’s about energy intake in a different form. In that respect it comes together. Then taste wise. Why not? In energy drinks everything is possible. That’s what’s really nice about that category. There’s no fear, and everything is possible.”
Bold energy offerings
A quick BeverageDaily.com internet browse turned up some bold energy offerings. For instance, Germany’s MS Arena-Drinks sells a Currywurst-style energy drink, while (an extreme offering, this one) Bloody Energy Potion is a US-based brand that promises the, err…, flavor of blood. (N.B. There's no link to WILD Flavors here!)
Of course, some markets will always be bolder than others, and Japan is out on its own – Pepsi White (yogurt flavored), Pepsi Ice Cucumber or Pepsi Pink (strawberry and milk flavour) anyone?
Asked who sponsors the most innovation – entrepreneurial brands or large beverage manufacturers? – Möller agreed that smaller firms “need to differentiate and take the risk”.
“Bigger firms differentiate if they want to develop a new range or a range extension. Even retailers – if they do a big promotion or seasonal product then they want to put different tastes on the market.”
Nonetheless, as Möller pointed out, retailers are taking the smallest risk, since they can simply delist new products that prove unprofitable.
“Seasonality is one trigger – to give consumers different taste options, trigger more sales at specific times, but it also a tried and trusted tool to try out acceptance for new taste,” she said.
Pepsi’s Caleb’s Kola, and building value in RTD teas
PepsiCo recently launched a craft cola in the US called Caleb's Kola, and Möller said an emphasis on localness (in regard to production location, ingredient sourcing), quality and authenticity was growing across different beverage categories.
She agreed such a strategy could work to build value in carbonates, and cited the example of RTD teas in Germany.
“Iced teas were very cheap, sold in big containers, had a lot of sugar, and we tended to only have lemon and peach flavor options,” Möller said.
At SIAL we are presenting higher quality tea options, such as brewed tea options – more products like this are bringing back a premium touch to a category that was seen as cheap and low cost,” she said.
Future flavors: Pomegranate, pink grapefruit…
“I don’t think CSDs in general are in the same value category, but you see concepts coming in with pulps, different citrus options, juice content – in combination with a hint of off-mint or ginger to premiumize,” Möller added.
In terms of flavor trends across countries, Möller said some flavors are valid for all regions, the so-called ‘huge classicals’ – orange, lemon, strawberry (more popular in food) and peach.
“Mango was new and exciting some years ago – now I’d say it’s more mainstream,” she added. “More mainstream in Middle East and Africa, then it came to Europe,” she said.
In terms of flavors working their way towards the mainstream – I’d say pomegranate, pink grapefruit, also ginger, while guava is popping up,” Möller said.