Top Trends:

Get ready to drink in a bunch of insights, data and trend spotting! This is Top Trends – an offering from the Curve Intelligence Portfolio dedicated to bringing you insights from the frontline of retail trends and this month we’re taking a look at beverages.

Not so long ago, you had two choices. One type of soda or another – and your choice sort of defined you. Those days are long gone and when it comes to beverages, there’s more choice than ever.

With so much choice, it’s never been more important to pay attention to what consumers are reaching for when they reach their arms into the fridges in their local stores. So, what are they reaching for? Well, we’re seeing three trends: craft soda, non-alcoholic options and zero sugar/zero calorie drinks.


Growth in 3 years

Craft People

First, let’s take a look at craft soda. For the last few years, craft beer has been one of the biggest things in the beverage world. If you visit any hip neighbourhood in just about any Canadian city, you probably can’t throw a rock without hitting a bearded guy in flannel, brewing an overly hoppy IPA. Hops aside, the same customer desires that led to the rise of craft beer are fuelling the trend in craft soda – with one important addition. Just like craft beer, customers are turning to craft sodas because they want something interesting and a little bit different. All the big brands offer the same flavours they’ve had their whole lives, while craft soda is something new – and companies are taking advantage of it. KPMG reminds us that “The opportunity to innovate within the premium beverage space is virtually limitless.”* Unlike craft beer however, craft sodas also offer a healthier alternative. Craft sodas are made from quality ingredients and often with less sugar – both of which are features that are increasingly important to consumers. With consumers’ new focus on the ingredients and quality of what they’re putting in their bodies, mass-produced soda brands are taking a back seat to smaller, less traditional options. Just take a look at Clearly Canadian – a brand that’s been around making soda alternatives for ages – and it’s easy to spot the trend: they’re clearly experiencing a resurgence of sales and interest. We know consumers are more conscious of what they put in their bodies – so instead of mass-produced soda brands, they are reaching for quality over quantity.

Give it a Sip

The second trend is somewhat related: the increase in interest in non-alcoholic beverages and ingredients. Consumers are searching for healthier options but are completely unwilling to sacrifice anything. Instead of reaching for a classic cocktail, they’re mixing up interesting mocktails. Beers in the backyard? Not quite – they want premium non-alcoholic options.

Non-alcoholic beer isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, there are countless options ranging from the big brands’ offerings to the interesting craft beer-inspired drinks from smaller, independent breweries. Driven by 18-34 year olds with a focus on health and quality ingredients, the category has seen a 30% increase over three years and is expected to double again by 2024**. Local breweries are taking notice, with Calgary’s own Village Brewery throwing its brand power and marketing behind a collection of delicious non-alcoholic beers.

If beer isn’t your thing, give mocktails a chance – cocktails without the liquor. While they may be leaving the alcohol out, they’re still looking for the absolute best ingredients possible. Craft soda is one of those ingredients. Kristina Cardinale of the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company says: “Alongside the big rave and interest in Craft Beer we have seen in Alberta, we have seen significant growth in soda purchases through restaurants, grocery and cafes for Craft Cocktails.”***

Low Calorie, Low Sugar

Finally, we’re seeing an increase in consumer’s desire for low calorie / low sugar drinks. By now you’re noticing the trend: shoppers are looking for healthier options across the board. Drinks are often seen as filled with “empty calories” and when people are looking to cut calories, or even just trying to make healthier choices, the sugary drinks are often the first to go.

But they don’t just want your traditional “diet” sodas. These days, healthy choices simply can’t come with sacrifice. Zero sugar can’t be zero flavour. Simply put, shoppers are demanding delicious options without the calories.

Or, as it was put in the recent article, “The Past and Future of Food”: “Consumers have found ways to have their cake and eat it, too—seltzer and sparkling waters have grown among health-conscious consumers in recent years.”****

As summer heats up, the beverage market does too. Let’s make sure you have everything your customer’s going to look for. As always, we’re here and happy to chat about anything from the newest beverage brand we’re carrying to our favourite mocktail recipe.



**Village Brewery/

***Kristina Cardinale – Sales & Marketing Manager, The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company

****The Past and the Future of Food

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