While consumers are looking to “take the alcohol out of the beer,” they still need a reason to select a beverage, opening an opportunity for functional options, Bass explained.
Last fall, research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that a 350 mg full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract twice a day provided students with "increased perceived well-being and improved health outcomes associated with sustained energy, heightened mental clarity and enhanced sleep quality" against a placebo group.
L-theanine has also been associated with improved attention and relaxation, according to a review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which looked at the functional benefits of teas and their compounds.
The demand for these functional benefits in food and beverage product is also increasing the global ashwagandha market, Bass said. The global ashwagandha market was worth $46.75m in 2022 and is expected to hit $114.93m in 2030, growing by an 11.90% CAGR between 2023 and 2030, according to a Data Bridge Market Research report.
Dry January continues to spur growth
In addition to looking for a functional boost, consumers are moderating their alcohol consumption throughout the year and using Dry January as an occasion to try out non-alcoholic beverages that mimic or provide a similar taste to alcoholic drinks. "There's a great stat; 58% of consumers are switching between low and no-alcohol and full strength in the same occasion," Bass added.
“Dry January is such an important occasion for non-alc brands; it brings so many consumers into the brand that not only come in for that month, but then they try the product, and it's really sticky, and then those consumers stay with us the rest of the year."
Focusing on flavor innovation
As HOP WTR capitalizes on the demand for non-alcoholic and functional beverages throughout the year, the brand will also focus on flavor innovation to attract new customers, Bass said. "Flavor is king these days," he noted.
HOP WTR released a Lime flavor last Dry January, followed it up with Peach, and then this Dry January released its Ginger Limeade flavor, Bass said. Looking to the rest of the year, HOP WTR will be releasing a new flavor later in the year while continuing to support its retailers, he added.
“We've got a couple of launches upcoming, great expansion at Target, H-E-B, and several other retailers, and then we'll have a new flavor coming out this summer TBD [on] the exact profile.”