Driven by changing consumer tastes, technological advancements, and emerging market trends, the beverage industry is constantly evolving. As we look ahead, convenience stores and food and beverage distributors alike will play a pivotal role in reshaping the landscape of the beverage industry. Let’s explore the top six trends expected to leave a lasting impression and create opportunities for innovation and growth in 2023.
Game-Changing Beverage Industry Trends to Follow
1. Functional and Health-Conscious Beverages
The Role of Convenience Stores in Promoting Healthy Living and Eating is more prevalent than ever in 2023—and that does not exclude beverages. More health-conscious consumers dominate the market with growing demands for functional, nutritional drinks. Convenience stores and retailers can expect a surge in beverages infused with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and natural ingredients.
These functional beverages cater to specific consumer needs, like immune support, increased energy, and gut health. Retailers offering diverse craft and local beverages will be well-positioned to capitalize on this popular trend.
In an era of climate change and the Sustainable Development Agenda, people worldwide have joined forces to foster environmental protection for the well-being of individuals and societies. With this in mind, consumers actively seek eco-friendly options and demand sustainable packaging solutions. This includes using recyclable materials, reducing the carbon footprint, and supporting ethical sourcing.
Offering these “clean,” environmentally friendly beverages will not only attract conscious consumers but also create a greener future. Even giant corporations like Coca-Cola have opted to make 100% of their packaging recyclable globally by 2025 and repurpose 50% of existing recycled material into their packaging by 2030.
3. Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Beverages
Americans are always on the go. Our undying drive to be better workers and proactive members of society means we need ergonomic and on-the-go products. We can’t afford to spend the extra time configuring complicated packaging and battling messy spills. When everything is on the line, convenience is our status quo, including ready-to-drink beverages (RTD).
Stores should expand their RTD beverage options to provide various flavors, sizes, and packaging styles to cater to different consumer preferences. This can be anything from energy drinks in resealable cans, juice in portable bottles, or coffee in quick, to-go cups. Pair innovative packaging solutions with sustainable packaging, and you can hit two major trends at once.
4. Technology and E-commerce
Digital transformation and Industry 4.0 have pushed the supply chain to adapt by integrating cutting-edge technology. From manufacturers to suppliers, retailers, and consumers alike, the technology wave enables unprecedented levels of efficiency, innovation, and connectivity when it comes to how products are made.
Using artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0 manufacturers are streamlining the production line, making operations more efficient, and positioning breakthrough goods at the top of the market. Even the food and beverage stratosphere has felt the aftershock of the digital frontier. Now, trends are tracked and monitored with increased proficiency.
Before digging deeper into how businesses can incorporate advanced technological solutions, retailers should invest in the “digital bare essentials”: online ordering, customizations, and quick delivery services. Without these core, basic, post-2020 staples, retailers lack the digital advantage to reach our mobile-phone society.
Gone are the days when customers relied solely on a phone call to make an order or (only) walk into the store to get what they needed; the world has gone online. Embracing technology will allow stores to help their beverage selections stay competitive in this evolving market.
5. Better Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Most modern stores are likely and already well-stocked with a colorful assortment of non-alcoholic beverages. However, the first rule of thumb for any competitive capitalist strategy is to innovate new, inventive products—and, most importantly—be relevant to current customer trends.
Just walking into any “new-wave” market will tell you everything you need to know about the proliferation of drinks beyond the traditional soda pop. Expect a rapid increase in plant-based beverages, functional waters (alkaline, electrolyte, flavored, etc.), herbal teas, artisanal sodas, and—when you want to feel like you’re drinking alcohol—fruity mocktails.
Of course, any good convenience store doesn’t cater solely to trends. Attracting a diverse customer base is about merging the classics (carbonated sodas, juices, coffee, etc.) with the new and exciting (fun flavors, delicious nutrition, sustainable packaging).
6. Fun Packaging and Branding
Ditch the plain white label. Is this product flashy, humble, healthy, or straight to the point? You should want to reflect these feelings in the packaging. From eye-catching graphics to earthy brown, compostable materials, unique packaging is the “hook” to getting your customer to break the seal. Likewise, plain is cool, too, but we prefer the term “minimalist.”
Even if your drink has competitors with virtually the same ingredients and mission, you can easily stand-out with a design that screams, “I’m different! Check me out.” Think contemporary like Izze’s sparkling juice, or practical like Just’s boxed water.
Atlantic Dominion Food and Beverage Distributors
It’s nice to have choices. On a hot, sunny day, you may be sweating for a cool and refreshing drink. On days that feel like a drag, you may need a little caffeine pick-me-up. Even if you’re a convenience store owner, you are still a customer—so you need to think like a customer. And customers not only need all the bare essentials but that alluring new drink they just saw on social media.
Atlantic Dominion beverage distributors are inventory-stocked with more than 200 items in our arsenal, from manufacturers like Nestle Waters, Coke, Pepsi, and Arizona; or name brands like Deer Park, Nestle Pure Life, Coke products, Simply Juices, Pepsi products, Tropicana, and Arizona Tea.
Our beverage distributors in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia can provide convenience store owners with next-day delivery service to always keep the shelves stocked and ready for customers. When you’re seeking business diversification and expansion, our professionals can quench your thirst with beverages with ergonomic packing and the help you need to monitor sales and trends.