December 15, 2009
Psychographics, demographics, nanotargeting, superfruits: Beverage formulators of today have a lot in their cups when dreaming up the flavors of the future. We see consumer demographics becoming more segmented than ever before, says Kimberly Carson, director, beverage solutions group, Sensient Flavors LLC, Indianapolis. Consumers are looking for products that allow them to express themselves as individuals. When developing a product for a specific demographic, it is important to consider all aspects of the beverage, including flavor, color, calorie content and specific value-added ingredients.
To some, that hints at finely tuning flavors and concepts to specific consumer groups: energy bombs with raspberry and citrus profiles for teen boys; beauty-promoting wellness tonics with indulgent, spa-experience flavors for harried moms and boomer women; and agave- and honey-sweetened beverages for the crunchy-granola crowd, suggests Marie Cummings, manager, food applications and product development, David Michael & Co., Inc., Philadelphia.
But others take a different tack. Eric Spenske, director of marketing, beverages, Givaudan Flavors, Cincinnati, notes: Ironically, flavor appeal is really not that different from one demographic group to another. Most differences are driven by cultural upbringing, and even then, it is more about varietals than about the fruit itself. Mango, for instance, has different connotations for people in different parts of the world. So, its not about whether a teenager likes a mango better than a boomer, he says. Its about making sure that the mango matches the promise of the product to the consumer to whom its targeted. So, instead of trying to imagine what someone might like, its best to go ask them.
And thats just what flavorists are doing. The answers theyre getting to questions about novel flavors that consumers want to try are surprising. Basic flavors, like orange, apple and lemon, will always remain classics, Cummings says. But sometimes there are those gems, such as pomegranate, that grab hold and appeal to a wide range of consumers. They then become the new basic. Among what might be new basics in the future: Cummings has her eye on hibiscus and guava, along with blood orange, which has already proven that is has mainstream appeal. Asian superfruits like jackfruit and red date also get her bid.
Carson, too, is bullish on superfruits, including carambola, loquat and quince.
And Spenskeafter acknowledging the road that açaí and pomegranate have paved for flavors like goji, cherimoya and dragonfruitreturns to lemon, lime and orange. These will continue to be at the center of many new beverage introductions, especially as the demand for unique varietals grows, he says. Focus on what consumers want, and realize that not every brand or every product line is going to be everything to everybody. Be great at what you are, and the consumer will duly reward you for sure.
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