Give Consumers the Functional Beverages They Want

What are the latest consumer trends for functional beverages? We’ve got them, right here for you. Not only are we sharing the findings from recent market studies, we have tips to help you leverage them.


A recent study shows that more adults are consuming beverages with functional benefit claims than a year ago. The number of benefits they are getting from these beverages has risen as well, with more than half of adults drinking beverages with multiple functional benefits in 2021. 1

Why? It’s not hard to understand:

The majority of consumers agree that functional beverages are more appealing than traditional Vitamin, Mineral and Supplement (VMS) products.1

Though hydration and energy drinks remain the most used types of beverages, consumers are turning to functional powder drinks for a variety of other needs as well, from relaxation and better sleep to immune system support and digestive health.1


Consumers are motivated by claims when the benefits align with their personal definitions of health.2


#1. Present your functional drink as the refreshing, tastier and more convenient substitute to traditional VMS products.1

#2. Expand on your offerings to please diverse consumer needs and reinforce the connection between your product’s nutrients and ingredients and specific consumer need states (i.e. prebiotic fiber for gut health).2


Consumers are stacking multiple functional benefits1 to get them more benefit for their buck.

Aside from hydration, some of consumers’ top benefit claims1 include:

  • Energy boosting
  • Calming/relaxing
  • Immune boosting
  • Digestive aid
  • Improved mood
  • Sleep aid

“Consumers are already turning to functional beverages to support their self-care routines in many forms of function.”1 They may be focused on their immediate needs such as digestive health, energy and sleep quality, or longer-term benefits such as gut health and healthy aging. The possibilities are endless, especially when brands reinforce potential long-term benefits gained with regular use of their functional beverages.


Many functional beverages focus on more immediate needs, such as energy, sleep or digestion. At the same time, consumers are seeking longer-term benefits from these products as well.


#1: Introduce emerging ingredients alongside the familiar.1

#2: Beverage blurring, with category-defying hybrid beverages, can be key to increased functional beverage trial.1

#3: Use functionality to capitalize on your products’ existing strengths, whether that is functionality through additional formulation in nutritional drinks and meal replacements, or inherent functionality such as that found in tea ingredients.2


Balancing functionality and value may seem like a distinct challenge, but consumers are making this easy, because they associate functionality with value. In fact, when asked, “Which of the following indicates that a food or drink product is a good value for the money?” 53% of consumers surveyed selected: “It has health benefits (e.g. heart healthy, immune support).”2 Also, 53% contend that they would like to be eating healthier1—indicating that brands can help consumers make healthier choices with value in mind.


Today, consumers’ need for value is heightened, particularly in their food and drink purchases. Functionality is a way to convey more brand value.2


Making—and highlighting—overt connections to health will convey more value than a lower price alone.2


Building trust in your product’s efficacy and your brand’s integrity goes a long way to improving perceived value.1


You know it’s true—functionality is important, but taste is king. That’s why flavor innovation is so essential to your functional powdered beverage portfolio. For brands or retailers, a well-balanced product portfolio should allow for flexibility in both healthy and indulgent products—meaning indulgent foods can balance real and wholesome ingredients, and healthy options can get indulgent with flavor innovation.2

Consumers show less trust in functional drink brands and doubt that these products are tasty and refreshing,1 so it’s your job to prove them wrong. Find out how you can stand out in the crowd with new flavor trends and more.

What does it take? A best-in-class, in-house R&D department with the combined expertise of food scientists, technicians and regulatory personnel, working with an established formula library to accelerate your speed to market. Want to find out how it’s done? Learn more about our product development process.

Collaborate with Nellson for your next flavorful functional protein powder. Let’s work together to create something new and inspiring for your brand.

Contact us today to leverage your next success.

1Mintel, “Functional Drinks – US,” 2021

2Mintel, “Food & Drink Nutrition Claims – US,” 2022

Category: Wellness Technologies Powders

Tags: In-House R&D , Formula library , speed to market , product development , Functional powders , Consumer trends , Functional beverages , Functional claims