Soulboost, which follows a slew of recent beverage launches by PepsiCo in the past year (Driftwell, Neon Zebra, Frutly, and Bubly Bounce) is the company's latest push into the growing functional water category, says Jenny Danzi, senior director of new Platforms at PepsiCo.
"Functional water beverages is a nascent category that we believe we are uniquely positioned to build," Danzi told FoodNavigator-USA, who notes that the category is expected to reach $11.3bn by 2027 growing at an 8.3% CAGR, citing Grandview Research figures.
According to Danzi, PepsiCo has developed an "inventive and responsive" innovation process which analyzes data and insights in real time to identify emerging consumer trends early on.
"PepsiCo has been on the forefront of these emerging beverage categories, developing new functional beverages to give consumers what they want, based on trends we’re seeing in the market. First with Driftwell, an enhanced still water beverage with magnesium and L-theanine to help promote relaxation; then cocktail mixer Neon Zebra; and now Soulboost, a sparkling water beverage with panax ginseng or L-theanine to lift or ease your vibe," said Danzi.
Available in four flavor profiles with 10 to 20 calories per 12-ounce can ($2.99 per can), Soulboost products are infused with either 200 mg of panax ginseng (found in its 'Lift' flavors of blueberry pomegranate and black cherry citrus) or 200 mg of L-theanine in its 'Ease' offering (blackberry passionfruit and strawberry rose).
Targeting wellness-focused consumers
Acknowledging the general consumer may not be as well-versed in ingredients such as L-theanine and panax ginseng, Danzi noted how consumer interest for new functional ingredients beyond caffeine is heating up. Many smaller, emerging brands including Phocus, NERD, and Moment are using L-theanine as a key ingredient in their functional beverage formulations, for instance.
Research behind the associated benefits of L-theanine's effect on reducing stress and ginseng's associated stamina and energy boosting benefits has also added credibility to these ingredients among consumers.
"Consumers are increasingly interested and educated about ingredients and the power of foods and beverages. We continue to see an upward trend of social chatter around functional ingredients, whether those, like L-theanine, that help get you in the mindset of relaxation; or panax ginseng, which supports mental stamina," notes Danzi.
"Consumers want drinks that work for them - and they also need to look beautiful and taste amazing."
And while other players may be targeting a niche audience (e.g. e-sports, tech developers, and so on), PepsiCo is clear with its mainstream intentions for Soulboost.
"Our core target [audience] is wellness-focused and knowledgeable about the power of ingredients, but doesn’t want to compromise on convenience or taste. They’re focused on their health and are in tune with their energy level and what they need to manage it. We like to say they’re someone with Type A goals, but a Type B personality," adds Danzi.
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