To truly understand the food and beverage industry, one must first understand “the culture.” Specifically, and sharing many similarities with food culture, American beverage culture represents the epitome of consumer choice—where a vast array of options exists (with more options waiting to be created) to solve evolving needs and lifestyles where convenience is paramount.
The Hartman Group’s Modern Beverage Culture 2018 report found beverage culture includes shared beliefs and behaviors around drinking, including beliefs around what is appropriate to drink, when, how and with whom. In today’s culture, consumers are seeking beverages with purpose.
While much of the focus of beverage consumption is on hydration and naturally functional drinks, contemporary health and wellness notions include the idea that the best health solutions are personalized, and that food and beverages can be used to achieve optimal performance. Performance is no longer a benefit reserved for athletes and fitness buffs, but it is something that touches all consumers as they seek to excel in and enjoy all aspects of their lives.
Performance is targeted functionality. It is using beverages for a specific, intended purpose. Consumers use coffee throughout the day to keep alert. They use protein shakes to help muscles recover after a workout and have a chamomile tea before going to bed to help relax to get a good night’s rest.
Performance is about a positive outlook. It’s how consumers can elevate their game. “How can I be the best I can be in that meeting?” It’s about using beverages to help attain peak performance in every aspect of one’s life.
In whatever setting consumed, beverages are a means for people to express themselves. The beverages market offers a complex, compelling landscape full of strategic implications for manufacturers, retailers and restaurant/foodservice operators.
Read the full version of this article in INSIDER’s Beverages digital magazine to get more insights into how consumers view the beverage culture.
Laurie Demeritt is CEO of The Hartman Group, where she drives the vision, strategy, operations and results-oriented culture for the company's associates as The Hartman Group furthers its offerings of tactical thinking, consumer and market intelligence, cultural competency and innovative intellectual capital to a global marketplace.