By Emmanuel Laroche VP Marketing and Consumer Insights, Symrise NA

The summer is over. There are more than 13 million searches for “refreshing drinks for summer” on Google!  Four million extra searches if we combine key words like “recipes”, “healthy” and “refreshing summer cocktails”.

This past summer I created my most refreshing long drink recipe. It was based on gin, black tea, lemonade, pink grapefruit juice, and pink grapefruit flavored sparkling wine, lavender bitter, lots of ice and fresh raspberries as adds-in.

In a recent Symrise consumer research study with Millennials across the US, I discovered that refreshment is not only a seasonal trend but  is connected with social occasions and is perceived as an escape - the ability to be taken away to escape necessities of life

Refreshment is a transition from an undesired state where parts of you feel like they have run their course to a desired state where you feel renewed.

Here is what I have learned:

1.       Refreshment is a multi-dimensional concept

Refreshment has physical and emotional components; each answer core need. Whilst the physical demands are more immediate, answering higher order needs can provide a richer refreshment experience.

Physical: hydrate, refuel, invigorate

Just as the concept of refreshment is multi-faceted, so a variety of beverage elements drive consumers’ perception of whether a drink is or isn’t refreshing. They fall into two main categories of drivers: Physical Drink Attributes and Ingredient Attributes.

Emotional: Relax, Cleanse and Joy

Relaxation is as a necessary step to re-energizing and thus becoming refreshed.

Cleansing allows a person to feel renewed.

For many, refreshment has ‘emotional energy’ – strong positive connections, associations and feelings. Refreshment is strongly connected with one’s wellbeing and happiness

The iconic elements of a drink all drive the overarching benefit of renewal: ice cold, flavor kick, energy boost, liquid flow, and natural additions

2.       Temperature is the drink!

 ‘Ice Cold’ is not only the most refreshing temperature, but making a drink ice cold is the easiest way to make something more refreshing.

3.       Bring Flavor kick!

Consumers desire a flavor sensation that stimulates their senses and helps them feel in the moment. This kick awakens and invigorates body and mind. Berries, Citrus, Orchard fruit, Exotic fruit, and Herbal notes are the most important categories of flavors contributing to creating the most refreshing beverage.

Recently I wrote about how to create immediate opportunities for your brands in the indulgent space - CLICK HERE to view this article.

4.       Real, fresh, natural additions increase visual perception of refreshment

Adding natural ingredients, from citrus slices, to fresh mint, to berries, cues fresh, natural and healthy for drinkers. It adds a multi-sensory aspect and brings a touch of luxury. Additionally it can intensify a drink’s refreshment with a complementary flavor.

The support elements of a drink all add to the sense of refreshment the drinker gets: light liquid color, carbonation level and fresh tastes

5.       Color is a key visual indicator of refreshment

Light colored liquids are a seen as a key cue for more natural, healthier, easy drinking beverages. For the majority, the most refreshing colors are crystal clear / blue (associated with pure water) and natural colors (resembling fruits).

6.       Carbonation is critical for the ‘Ahhh’ factor after you take the first sip

Carbonation is very polarizing – for some people it brings real energy and life to a drink. For others it is synonymous with unhealthy Sodas – and carbonated drinks are unnatural.

7.       Fresh tastes help impart naturalness to a drink

Not all fresh drinks are refreshing, not all refreshing drinks are fresh. US consumers are seeking out fresh tastes in the sense that they are new. There is potential for fusions and new combinations that are surprising to them.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to the weekly in-sight newsletter!

Here are more key learning for selected beverage categories:


Key dimensions: Relax and Joy

Color: red, pink

Key Flavors: Fruit (berry. Tropical, citrus), Orchard flavors 

Sport Drinks:

Key dimensions: Hydrate and refuel

Color: Red, blue

Key Flavors: Berry Citrus, Exotic

RTD Tea:

Key dimensions: Relax and Joy

Color: Red, orange, clear

Key Flavors: Berry, Citrus / tea

Flavored Water:

Key dimension: Hydrate

Color: Clear

Key Flavors: Berry, Exotic Citrus, Exotic Orchard 

Fruit Juice:

Key dimensions: Joy, Hydrate and Relax

Color: Orange, red,

Key Flavors: Exotic Citrus, Orchard, Bry / Tea


Key dimension: Relax

Colors: Yellow, Orange, Red

Key Flavors: Herbal berry, Citrus, Tropical


Symrise NA can guide you to create the most refreshing beverages based on our dual consumer research: qualitative research with Millennials in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas to explore the meaning of refreshment and identify the key drivers of refreshment in drinks. We continued the research with a quantitative study and factor analysis to uncover opportunities for innovation that can drive greater refreshment while asking Millennials to develop their most refreshing beverages.

Click here to learn more on how Symrise NA can help you create the most refreshing beverages.



Join your peers today!

Get the latest articles, news and trends in the Food & Beverage industry delivered directly to your inbox. Don't miss out! Enter your email address below to receive the weekly in-sight newsletter.


StarChefs Los Angeles 2024 Panel Discussion

When it’s time for another StarChefs panel discussion, where else but Los…

Happy Holidays from Symrise! See you in 2024!

Thank you for reading and sharing in-sight in 2023! We're taking a holiday…