Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSDs) constitute a lucrative $23 billion market notes a new report out by Mintel International (Chicago). According to another study, conducted by BuzzBack Market Research Services (New York), 56% of teens have tried a new snack, food or drink product recently. More interestingly, above all else, teens tend to try new beverages.

Looking back at 2003, four new product introductions brought excitement to the category reports the Beverage Marketing Corporation (New York). They were Sprite Remix, “a mixed berry flavor added to what people already love about Sprite;” Mountain Dew Live Wire, “a tongue-zapping orange ignited flavor;” Pepsi Vanilla, “It's the great taste of Pepsi with a splash of vanilla, for a taste that's smooth yet not too sweet;” and Diet Pepsi Vanilla, which was simply Pepsi Vanilla in a diet form (with aspartame). These products show how color and flavor modifications can successfully drive category sales growth.

When looking at the soft drink market, male teens compose the fastest growing segment of the population and also index high on per capita consumption. What can manufacturers offer in the way of color and flavor to appeal to this important market?

Proprietary market research conducted by Symrise Flavors Marketing Services (Holzminden, Germany) provides information to better understand color and flavor perceptions and how these drive trial and repeat purchase behavior within this group. Its research reveals that color is as important as flavor in initial trial, but flavor determines repeat purchase. Additionally, colors bring to mind specific images and ideas.

During the study, focus group participants conveyed that they especially liked red, blue, green and clear. In fact, many recent beverage line extensions do not even mention flavor. Examples include Code Red; Red Fusion; dnL green, Mr. Green and Pepsi Blue. The promotions for these products often focus the message on change of color rather than flavor.

However, as important as color is, flavor is crucial to longer-term product success.

So, what can be done in the way of flavor to differentiate a beverage? Symrise's market research demonstrates that male teen preferences are moving toward flavor profiles that can be characterized as “smooth” or “cool.” The focus group participants categorized certain flavors as “smooth,” with others being “non-smooth.”

Additionally, research among various racial and cultural demographic groups concludes that the top growing soft drink flavors among male teens are orange, lemon, cherry and ginger. Cultural skews among Hispanics showed a preference for orange, mango, tamarind and pineapple. The overall product profile now preferred by male teens can be contrasted with the current CSD selection as “sweeter, more fruit flavor, less carbonation and more 'heft,' resembling adult beverages.”

For more information:

Symrise Flavors Marketing Services

Emmanuel Laroche, 201-462-2389