To cut through the noise on overcrowded shelves, especially in saturated categories, brands are being forced to innovate to retain and grow market share. One way to catch consumers’ eye, is to innovate with added product benefits previously not associated with the category. There is a particular opportunity for gendered targeting of hot drinks such as teas and coffees, as men and women seek various different properties from these products.

While some manufacturers explore new ingredients and unique production techniques to enhance the products’ texture and taste to get consumer’s attention, others enhance packaging to generate excitement and better gain traction among potential customers. Another route for food and beverage manufacturers is to offer consumers novel functional properties to add value to their product and providing new benefits for consumers, such as relaxation or energy boosts.

Finding function in tea and coffee

Across all the beverage categories, Hot tea and hot coffee are the top two drinks which consumers want to see featuring functional benefits, with 58% global consumers claiming they are interested in these beverages featuring functional ingredients. This can be attributed to the staple nature of hot drinks, and their real or perceived “better for you”  halo when compared to other beverages types such as sweet carbonated drinks or iced teas and coffees.

Functional-style hot coffees could appeal to both genders, with around 3 in 5 consumers expressing interest in functional-style hot coffees according to GlobalData's 2015 Q1 consumer survey. Another interesting point is that women are more interested in functional-style teas than men, at 61% and 55% respectively, demonstrating the opportunities for gendered targeting in this space.

When it comes to functional benefits in beverages, both genders are most concerned with gut health, though this is a larger concern for women than men, at 45% and 41% respectively. This means, to ensure their hot drinks products stand out, manufacturers must explore new formulations adding novel (for the category) ingredients associated with digestion, such as anise, chilli or ginger in coffee or green tea.

Targeting hearts and minds

The second important functional benefit for men is heart health, while women’s second choice of functional benefits in beverages was aiding relaxation. The former can be targeted with low in caffeine teas and coffees featuring ingredients associated with heart health. For example, Tridawa Coffee Leaf tea launched in Indonesia is said to feature high levels of compounds such as magniferin credited with lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes. To target women with relaxation drinks, coffee manufacturers should capitalize on the ingredients consumers know from calming and “good night sleep” teas, such as lavender and valerian root. Meanwhile, tea manufacturers should explore innovativecombinations of “relaxation” ingredients, such as using ayurvedal herb Holy Basil in countries such as UK or Germany.