Should sparkling water ‘tap’ into botanical flavours?

Jazmine Duncan, Strategic Content Manager
May 11, 2022

Yes. Our dashboard has detected a shift in consumer preferences. The traditional role of beverages to ‘quench thirst’ and ‘accompany food’ is being challenged by a new dimension, which brings together ‘flavour’ and ‘functionality’. As a result, there’s a real opportunity for sparkling water brands to grow share here by leveraging their equity in the ‘health’ space.

Register for our forthcoming webinar: let’s get fizzical - how to meet the rising demand for functional beverages

Sparkling water could ‘pour’-form well in the functional space 

With the growing interest in healthier alternatives, the popularity of flavoured sparkling water is expected to skyrocket with a CAGR of 12% until 2027. In terms of flavour, we’ve seen botanical tastes like lavender, hibiscus and elderflower become increasingly mainstream across the fizzy drinks market. Consumers are also taking things into their own hands. Our data has revealed a behavioural shift, as many have started adding exotic fruits into their sparkling water for an extra twist. In fact, 1 in 4 of those drinking sparkling water have considered adding something extra to it. 

*Based on Streetbees data in CN, the UK and the US. 

These fruity or botanical elements not only bring extra flavour, they also hit the need for functionality. Lavender, for example, is proven to be an aromatherapy agent that aids with mood disorders, boosts sleep, helps with menstrual cramps and improves skin health. This illustrates how one simple ingredient has the power to create a unique selling point in a highly saturated market.  

Let’s look at the driving demand space behind water drinking moments to help you position your brand. 

From our 4.5 million bees, who are constantly sharing their real-time habits and attitudes with us, we’ve found that the ‘Work Refresh’ demand space over-indexes here - a space which has grown steadily since Q1 2021. This is a solo midday occasion, where consumers are seeking something to refresh them and keep them going for the rest of the day. 

Water holds the largest share of this occasion. However, we’ve seen water consumption drop slightly since the beginning of 2021. Instead, other beverages which are focused more on energy have seen an increase over the past 12 months. To regain share here, water brands must learn from these growing categories. 

*Based on Streetbees data in FR, DE, IT, ES and the UK.

So how can you grow your sparkling water brand in this space?

1. Branch out into the functional kids category

Sparkling water is typically thought of as an adult drink, but what’s holding it back from being a kid-friendly beverage? There’s been an increase in healthier products for kids, and this has expanded to include functional ingredients. Many parents, who now have more awareness of functional ingredients and the benefits they offer, are seeking these products. Not just for themselves, but also for their kids. 

Position sparkling water as a healthy, yet fun alternative to the sugar-infused beverages kids love. Build on existing equities in the category, like bubbliness and enticing natural flavours, to interest kids and consider adding nutrient-rich vitamins and/or antioxidants to strengthen appeal among parents.

*Based on Streetbees data in FR, DE, IT, ES and the UK. 

Brand spotlights - ‘you’re pro-bubbly right’

Tickle Water was created by a mum, who wanted to get her children to drink more water and less sugary beverages, so she created a clean sparkling water experience specifically for kids. 

​​​​​​ hellowater has a hellowaterkids range, with a trio of hydrating, fibre-infused water beverages, specifically designed to support growing bodies. 

2. Innovate with botanical alcohol mixers

Sparkling water already has a small space carved out for itself in alcohol, particularly with vodka. However, there’s a real opportunity for brands to do more here, especially in at-home alcohol occasions. In fact, the proportion of our bees who use sparkling water in homemade drinks rose from 48% in Q1 to 52% in Q4. Consumption of sparkling water has also shifted from the morning to the afternoon and evening, so it correlates well with alcohol occasions. 

Consider creating a range of sparkling waters with different flavour profiles, that lend themselves to healthier alternatives of pre-packaged mixers, for example, floral, sweet, tangy or earthy. This thought could also be extended by partnering with alcohol brands to create mixers specifically tailored to certain alcohols or cocktails. 

*Based on Streetbees data in FR, DE, IT, ES and the UK. 

Brand spotlights - ‘water you up to these days?’

Dash has created a sparkling water range specifically for mixing with alcohol, using premium soda water infused with real, wonky fruit. 

​​​​​​ San Pellegrino have a section of their website, called MixArt, dedicated specifically to cocktail recipes using sparkling water.


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