PepsiCo speeds new functional drink Driftwell to market through internal pitch competition

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Each 7.5oz can contains 200mg of L-theanine. Pic:PepsiCo
Each 7.5oz can contains 200mg of L-theanine. Pic:PepsiCo

Related tags: Pepsico, functional beverages, Us

PepsiCo is launching Driftwell: a functional beverage containing L-theanine to promote relaxation. Representing PepsiCo’s fastest beverage brand ever to market, it was created through an internal idea pitch competition for employees.

The drink went from conception to execution in less than a year: tapping into ‘a real life problem with a real life solution’ with a drink to help relax and unwind.

‘Spa inspired’: blackberry & lavender flavor

Launching in the US in December, Driftwell is a non-carbonated, enhanced water beverage ‘designed to help you relax and unwind’. It contains L-Theanine to promote relaxation and de-stress: with each 7.5oz mini can containing 200mg of L-theanine; 10% of the daily value of magnesium; and 0 calories and 0 sugar.

The ‘spa inspired’ flavor contains a ‘subtle and soothing hint of blackberry and lavender flavors’.

PepsiCo reports that 55% of Americans experience high stress throughout the day; while 45% reported lying awake at night because of stress - and 21% said they feel more stress when they can’t sleep. As PepsiCo summarizes, it's a vicious circle: “Stress is one of the main reasons people aren’t sleeping well; and yet, poor sleep leads to even more stress!"

But despite the well-documented problems with stress and sleeping for today’s busy consumers, PepsiCo says consumers are usually forced to choose between products with little efficacy; or products with heavy-handed ingredients that result in groggy after-effects. The idea behind Driftwell’s L-theanine is ‘to promote relaxation and de-stress, helping individuals get into the right end of day mindset’.

Got a good idea? PepsiCo's global system allows employees to pitch a concept

PepsiCo’s internal program, ‘The Next Big Idea’, was launched last year by chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta. While its first result is this new beverage brand, the concept of innovation is much wider than that, says PepsiCo.

The initiative is all about driving the business forward by tapping into the creativity and ingenuity of PepsiCo associates all over the world,” ​a PepsiCo spokesperson told this publication. “The ideas can span everything from new product concepts, like Driftwell, to supply chain efficiencies, or even workplace upgrades.

“The Next Big Idea uses an online platform to allow employees from across the globe to team up with one another to create new innovations. Equipped with digital currency, PepsiCo associates can then invest virtual dollars behind the ideas and innovations they like the best.

"The ideas with the “largest investment” are then pitched to Ramon and his global leadership team. The winning team is then given the opportunity to work closely with senior leaders to develop their concept and bring it to life.”

And in a market where there’s a real need for speed, PepsiCo says the initiative was then able to effectively take employees’ ideas, combine them with the practical expertise of its specialist departments, and bring a product to market.

“Driftwell is the fastest beverage brand ever to market from PepsiCo. While it was in development before the pandemic, now it is launching at a time when it is needed most. PepsiCo has a fantastic nutrition sciences and brand development team, both of which helped bring this product to market in record time.”  

Driftwell will be available nationwide across the US starting in December. A 10 pack online will have a suggested retail price of $17.99. A launch on retail shelves is set to follow in select markets at the beginning of 2021.

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