2024 Beverage Innovations: Why De-Alcoholised Drinks and Savoury Sips Are Winning

Kelcie Gene Papp
January 17, 2024

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ANTIGUA, W.I - Last night whilst sipping my Ruby Hibiscus Water, it occurred to me that this wave of tangy and bold, and at times salty sips like this crisp, celery lovage cardamom soda are anything but ordinary. This isn't your grandparent’s liquor cabinet; it's a whole new world of herbaceous, umami-packed punches that are enkindling a flavour explosion on palates worldwide.

And, let's talk about Gen Z's latest flex they’re happy to break loud budgeting for - de-alcoholised beverages. For them, it's not a fad, it's the new every day. This isn't just a superficial nod to wellness; it's a genuine commitment to a lifestyle.

In 2024 drinks are telling stories from your Versace Medusa Lumière Haze Whiskey glasses with notes of inheritance, headwater and garden-fresh innovation. Each sip a blend of classic and the unexpected. It’s calculated, it's cognisant, and it's here to shake things up. Here’s 11 things beverage brand marketers can learn from 2023’s top 10 innovative spirits as published by The Spirits Business.

1. Innovation Beyond Traditional Boundaries (Selva Negra and Brockmans Gin)

What to Consider: When Selva Negra and Brockmans Gin innovated beyond traditional boundaries, they likely conducted extensive market research. 

For similar innovation? Consider how your product will be received in different markets, and whether it aligns with both traditional values and modern trends. Balancing respect for traditions and inventive thinking is crucial.

2. Leveraging Technology in Product Development (The Glenlivet Twist & Mix)

What to Consider: In the case of The Glenlivet Twist & Mix, the technology directly enhanced the consumer experience. 

For similar initiatives? Assess how the technology aligns with your product's core values and enhances its usability. Also, consider conducting consumer trials to gauge response before a full launch.

3. Sustainability and Environmental Responsibility (Absolut paper bottle)

What to Consider: Absolut’s paper bottle initiative exemplifies its commitment to sustainability. 

Consider how sustainable practices will impact your production and align with your brand message. Sustainability should be a genuine part of your brand ethos, not just a marketing strategy.

4. Cultural and Regional Influences (WhistlePig Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel)

What to Consider: WhistlePig’s collaboration with Alfa Romeo demonstrates the effective use of regional influence. 

When integrating cultural elements, partner with local experts to ensure authenticity and respect. Also, consider how these influences align with your brand’s identity.

5. Non-Alcoholic Alternatives (Almave)

What to Consider: Although this is Lewis Hamilton's latest business venture, Almave’s launch into the non-alcoholic space highlights the importance of deeply understanding the target market’s preferences and value set.

Research to conduct? Why your audience might seek non-alcoholic alternatives and how to make new creations from rare ingredients.

6. Limited Editions and Exclusivity (Brockmans Agave Cut)

What to Consider: The limited release of Brockmans Agave Cut created exclusivity. 

Planning limited editions? Consider how they can build brand prestige without alienating potential customers. Limited editions should be exclusive but not so rare that they're inaccessible to a wider audience.

7. Storytelling and Brand Narrative (Brother Justus American Single Malt Cold-Peated Whiskey)

What to Consider: Brother Justus’ unique story demonstrates the power of a compelling narrative. 

Ensure that your storytelling is not only engaging but also authentic, resonating with your target audience and coherently presented across all platforms.

9. Targeting New Consumer Segments (The Glenlivet Twist & Mix)

What to Consider: The Glenlivet Twist & Mix's approach to breaking stereotypes and reaching new segments is instructive. 

Research new segments thoroughly to understand their needs, and consider how this expansion aligns with your brand’s current positioning.

10. Collaborations and Partnerships (WhistlePig and Alfa Romeo)

What to Consider: The partnership between WhistlePig and Alfa Romeo is a great example of a collaboration that brings together different areas of expertise. 

Partners? Choose those whose brand ethos and customer base complement yours, ensuring the collaboration offers unique value to your customers.

11. Testing and Optimising Products (The Glenlivet Twist & Mix)

What to Consider: As seen with The Glenlivet Twist & Mix, it’s important to test your product extensively before full-scale production. 

This process should include diverse consumer groups to gain comprehensive feedback, allowing for product refinement while staying true to your brand’s core values.

What Happens Next?

The directive from 2023's pioneering spirit innovators is unequivocal: Innovate boldly or risk obsolescence. For CMOs and brand strategists alike, this is an era that mandates a fusion of gutsy originality and strategic precision.

And, as we look towards the future of the beverage industry, the trends suggest exciting next steps.

From the current popularity of inventive drinks like sparkling kimchi water to non-alcoholic savoury options reveals a consumer base enthusiastic for adventurous and unusual taste experiences. This thirst for novelty and diversity is so poised to shape the next wave of beverage innovation, and here’s three ideas on my mind:

Customisable Blends

Remember Sara Lee's "add an egg" concept Rory Sutherland spoke about here? We’re calling the rise of customisable beverage bases. 

These bases could offer a spectrum of add-ins, from protein to exotic fruits or nutrient-rich vegetables, enabling consumers to craft personalised drinks that cater not only to their taste buds but also to their nutritional needs. This approach could revolutionise the way we think about beverages, transforming them from fixed recipes to customisable swigs.

Cultural Fusion

Building on the trend of global-inspired flavours, we might witness the emergence of fusion beverages that merge culinary elements from diverse cultures. Imagine Japanese matcha conversing with tomatillos salsa verde. Leading to a new genre of drinks that are culturally and globally diverse.

Functional Ingredients

We’re talking about drinks infused with adaptogens or elements that boost immunity, catering to the mushrooming consumer emphasis on health and wellness. Kind of like these vitamin-infused chocolates but cold, sippable liquids with added value for overall well-being.

In 2024 the beverage industry can play with customisation, cultural lego and functional benefits to redefine what we drink. Beyond Gen-Z, we’re all looking for a future where beverages are not just enjoyable but fascinating, health-conscious, and culturally wealthy. 

Kelcie Gene Papp
Founder & Editor