Functional drinks, which include vitamins, herbs, plants and minerals associated with a potential health or performance benefit, are a small but growing category of the overall beverage industry. With the ongoing global pandemic, consumers are finding new ways to relax and unwind and products which can help them achieve it are certainly going to gain popularity and prove helpful.

To align with the trend PepsiCo has recently launched a new functional beverage, Driftwell, which it claims is designed to help consumers relax, unwind and de-stress. The product is designed to help consumers who are stressed and as a result are unable to sleep. It contains L-theanine, an amino acid commonly found in tea leaves which is said to promote relaxation without drowsiness, as well as magnesium and has a spa-water inspired flavour with hints of blackberry and lavender.

The beverage has zero carbonation, zero calories and zero sugar, a claim that may resonate well with health conscious consumers. Additionally, it also contains 10% of the recommended daily value of magnesium. The drink comes in 7.5-ounce mini cans and just one flavor: blackberry lavender and will be launched in US in December 2020.

According to GlobalData’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey – Week 8, approximately 22% of consumers in US say that they feel stressed these days with the number going up to 33% for young consumers in the age group of 18-24 year olds* who are having a tough time adjusting to the new normal. Stress is also one of the main reasons responsible for lack of sleep and thus the product may be highly appealing to these consumers.

According to Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities at Pepsi’s North American beverages unit, “PepsiCo sees an opportunity — especially during these anxiety-inducing times — to offer stress-relief via beverage form. It is also the fastest new product to ever come out of the company”. With the functional drinks category gaining momentum there are opportunities for PepsiCo to leverage their scale of operations and tap into the small but growing segment.

Sales of soft drinks has been heavily impacted due to the pandemic mostly as a result of closures in foodservice outlets and a shift to at-home consumption with fewer occasions for socializing. PepsiCo is trying to get a stronger foothold in the health and wellness segment with acquisitions like KeVita in 2016 and plant based energy bar company Health Warrior in 2018, and a product like this can definitely help in tapping new opportunities in related segments.

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