For modern shoppers, keeping on top of busy schedules can be a stressful task. The multitude of time-consuming demands from both work and leisure, combined with financial uncertainty and debts, can often leave drinkers feeling worn down and unable to achieve a happy work-life balance.

This constant need to be ‘switched on’ at all times can have a serious impact on the health of consumers. Increasingly hectic schedules can compromise people’s ability to eat and drink healthily, restricting the amount of time they have to pause and unwind from the stresses of the day.

It’s very easy for consumers to get trapped in a vicious cycle of over overworking and fatigue, but health-conscious shoppers are beginning to recognise the negative effects of leading unbalanced lifestyles. This in turn is fuelling demand for products and services that help consumers achieve a more balanced lifestyle. In a recent report from GlobalData, ‘TrendSights Analysis: Vitality & Wellbeing’, associate analyst Matthew Perry explores how consumers are taking a more active approach to their physical and mental health. Using key features of the trend identified in the report, we take a look at how drinks brands can help consumers achieve a more balanced lifestyle and improve their emotional well-being.

Non-alcoholic drinks

Healthy and functional beverages are in demand in the non-alcoholic drinks sector. Consumers have become increasingly knowledgeable about the negative impacts of artificial sweeteners following the backlash against sugar. With evidence linking high-sugar or sweetener diets to serious physical and mental health conditions, including memory impairment, anxiety and depression, many health-conscious shoppers are turning to more naturally formulated and low-sugar beverages in order to improve their overall wellbeing.

Consumers are showing increased interest in functional beverages that offer energy-boosting or stress-relieving benefits. Enriching non-alcoholic beverages with ingredients that offer added functional benefits can be a key way for brands to boost their health appeal. To tap into the trend, beverage manufacturers have begun to enrich products with vitamins and minerals to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Incorporating botanicals and herbs with therapeutic or energising properties has become a popular way for brands to target the desire for ‘natural’ products with benefits that relieve stress, detoxify the body, or deliver an energy boost.

The Macaccino ‘superfood’ drink in the US is a prime example of how brands can use ‘beneficial’ ingredients to enhance the health appeal of a product. Positioned as a healthy alternative to coffee, the drink substitutes traditional coffee beans with a ‘superfood’ known as the maca root to deliver an energy boost. Claimed to contain adaptogens that improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress, maca root offers a myriad of functional benefits that may appeal to health-driven consumers, including amino acids, essential fatty acids, phenols, and vitamins and minerals.

Detoxifying beverages are also gaining popularity among consumers. According to GlobalData’s Q1 2015 global consumer survey, 26% of global consumers are interested in beverages that have ‘detox’ style effects. Detoxing can improve the appearance of skin and hair, with many consumers noting a natural energy boost and improvements to their cognitive functions, all of which can help to stimulate positive emotional wellbeing.

Alcoholic drinks

The physical repercussions of excessive alcohol consumption have been widely acknowledged for many years, but as mindfulness and wellbeing become central motivators in consumer purchasing decisions, changing attitudes towards products that are known to impair cognitive functions are pushing consumers to value rejuvenation over intoxication when it comes to drinking alcohol.

For busy consumers looking to improve their general health, alcohol reduction is an obvious choice. Although alcohol can enhance mood in the short-term, over time excessive consumption can cause consumers to build up a tolerance to its elating effects. As a result, negative emotional responses can begin to outweigh the pleasurable effects of alcohol plateau, which can in turn lead to enhanced feelings of depression and anxiety. Reducing alcohol, therefore, can not only reduce the risk of diseases like brain and liver damage, but it can also help to improve or maintain cognitive functions and emotional health.

According to GlobalData’s Q3 2016 global consumer survey, 46% of global consumers are influenced by how the product impacts their health and wellbeing when shopping for alcoholic beverages. While the moderation and avoidance trend is a threat to conventional alcoholic beverages, producers have an opportunity to expand and diversify their low and no-alcohol portfolios to capitalise on the changing drinking habits of consumers.

Using health claims to enhance the appeal of alcoholic beverages is inherently difficult for alcoholic beverages brands, largely due to the fact that marketing spirits as having medicinal properties will likely encounter regulatory and ethical obstacles. Despite this, several manufacturers have begun to incorporate herbal ingredients, botanicals and spices to give products ‘therapeutic’ or ‘restorative’ properties. Malta Guinness in Nigeria is a prime example for brands looking to enhance products using botanicals. The non-alcoholic light malt beverage leverages the ‘healthy’ perception of herbs and plants to appeal to Nigerian consumers looking for healthy alternatives to full-strength beer.

Uncorked potential in the global drinks industry

Coping with the demands of increasingly fast-paced lifestyles will often lead to stress and a lack of sleep. It’s easy for consumers to become stuck in this cycle; however, shoppers are becoming more aware of the negative health implications of stress and fatigue and have begun to take a more proactive approach to restore a work-life balance. In fact, according to GlobalData’s Q1 2017 global consumer survey, just over half of consumers are already buying or would consider buying products that deal with their stress and tiredness, while 46% of consumers would be motivated to purchase products that addressed overworking.

Consequently, drinkers are seeking out products that can help to improve their physical and emotional health. This has implications for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks manufacturers, as consumers demand more ‘natural’ product formulations. For alcoholic drinks brands, increased awareness about the negative health effects of heavy consumption threaten the future of traditional products, however, the trend does present opportunities for manufacturers to develop low or no-alcohol product ranges.

For non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers, the appearance of ‘villain’ ingredients, such as sugar, may deter health-conscious consumers, so it may be beneficial for brands to explore naturally energising ingredients, such as ginseng or maca root, to deliver natural uplift. Fortifying products with vitamins and minerals can also help to enhance their healthy appeal and create a good-for-you perception among health-conscious consumers.