Colorful concoctions continue to create bold boost for beverages on social media

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Green for health, yellow for immunity, or red for a new beginning? Pic:getty/foxysforestmanufacture
Green for health, yellow for immunity, or red for a new beginning? Pic:getty/foxysforestmanufacture

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From black water to orange gin, the overaching trend in beverage colors is simple: young consumers want bright, bold and highly Instagrammable products.

Brightly colored beverages create an exciting sensory experience and are ideal for Instagrammers. There's an abundance of brightly colored ingredients - also rich in health benefits - like beetroot, spirulina, matcha and turmeric that are used in products like smoothies and superfood lattes. In alcohol, colorful creative cocktails are trending and pink gin remains a firm favorite. 

But what colors could we see dominating 2021? Will wellbeing prompt more launches in a healthy-looking green? Will red signal a new start for a new year? And will earthy colors tune in with consumer demand for natural products?

Orange and green: health and wellbeing

The pandemic has increased consumers’ focus on health and wellness: and particularly immunity boosting ingredients.

Immunity is clearly associated in consumers’ minds with yellow and orange – think vitamin C rich orange juice or home remedies such as honey and lemon – so expect to see these hues take prominence in beverages seeking to make an immunity claim or association.

Green is another color associated with immunity and overall general health – fruits and vegetables such as kiwi, kale and cucumber have been increasing their presence in juices in recent years.

PepsiCo’s Naked Smoothie ‘Green Machine’, for example, draws on spirulina, alfalfa, broccoli, spinach, kale and parsley; while Coca-Cola innocent’s ‘Wonder Green’ uses apple, pear, cucumber, matcha, lime and spirulina.  

These colors provide bright bold colors which work well on social media.

Red: vitality, energy and action

Red could become a trending color in the food and beverage industry heading into 2021 as the shade can help signal the "start of a new era," says EXBERRY Coloring Foods supplier GNT Group.

GNT Group said red is rising in popularity and fueling food and beverage innovation in 2021. 

“Red was the natural choice for our new Love Color with EXBERRY​​ campaign. It epitomizes human vitality, creating energy, passion and positive action, and brings real excitement to food and drink products. Red is well known for its ability to command instant attention and it’s a color you won’t be able to ignore in 2021,”​​ said Maartje Hendrickx, GNT’s market development manager.

GNT predicts that consumers seeking out a sense of excitement and discovery will gravitate to more food and beverage products featuring the vibrant hue.

Natural colors are still important

While bright and bold may be best on Instagram; beverage manufacturers need to remember that many consumers are still looking for natural products and what's more, products that look​ natural.

Mike Hughes, head of research at FMCG Gurus, says: "Whilst a high proportion of beverage consumption occasions continue to be driven by routine and inertia, consumers are open to having their sensory perceptions challenged within the beverage market. Indeed, consumers deem themselves as adventurous and experimental and are seeking out more exciting products as a form of self-expression. This is something that is driving demand for new and innovative flavors and colors within the beverage market. When launching such products however, it is crucial that consumers feel reassured that such flavors and colors are real and authentic and not artificial."

This conundrum - a need for colorful products that also use natural and sustainable colors - means beverage manufacturers need to choose colors carefully, notes US beverage development company Imbibe.

"Natural colors are more sensitive to pH as well as fading due to heat during processing and light, so product developers must choose natural colors that will maintain intensity throughout processing and on the shelf."

Earthy tones

Earthy tones provide more natural-looking colors than their bright counterparts: and FrieslandCampina highlights their potential for 2021.

"Consumers will continue to cherish earthy tones and are looking for colourful accents in the coming year,"​ ​suggests Suzanne van den Eshof, global marketing director food and beverages at FrieslandCampina Ingredients. 

"Whereas the colourful cranberries and pinkish bubbles on top of milk tea will continue to be popular in 2021, the consumer will primarily be looking for earthy (looking) products with colourful accents while cherishing the basic earthy tones such as chestnut and caramel, often part of warm-hearted drinks."

Orange is the new pink?

In the alcoholic drinks sector, pink has been a clear winner with the boom in pink gin. Once the domain of a few small distilleries, pink gin has now poured into the mainstream. The bold color makes bottles stand out on shelf; while offering consumers something new and different to try. And it has clear Instagram appeal.

But other colors reckon they’ve got a chance to knock pink of its pedestal: notably with Beefeaters’ Orange Gin launch last year, which has led to a number of other orange gin launches. 

A word of caution...

2020 has changed the way we eat and drink: which consumption much more focused at home. "The colorful food and beverage trend may have slowed due to the pandemic because many of the trends started in foodservice,"​ notes Imbibe.

The pandemic has, however, opened up the door for at-home creations: particularly when it comes to cocktail kits or at-home experiences. If these can succeed at offering consumers the experience they're looking for, then they may also succeed in keeping colorful concoctions on social media channels.

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