Hybrid drink concepts are on the rise as brands look to appeal to an increasing number of curious consumers, eagerly on the hunt for the newest creative beverage industry trends. Today’s younger consumers are thirsty for innovation, especially within the non-alcoholic sector, and the recent growth of hybrid beverages available on the market might just be the key to standing out within the industry.

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Hybrid beverages are the crossroads of coffees and sparkling waters or sodas, as they include carbonation and natural fruit flavors. The drinks fuse together two or more traditional beverage categories in order to create something flavorful and unconventional. Showing especially high engagement with younger generations—Gen Z and Millennials—many coffee roasters and beverage companies have already begun stocking grocery store shelves across the country with their own hybrid takes. “The most engaged consumers – iGens, Millennials, parents, and Hispanics – are often young and influential,” reports Mimi Bonnett, Director of Food and Drink, Foodservice at Mintel. “These key consumer groups seek to try more, indicating longer-term potential. Opportunities lie in expanding drink occasions, reaching a wider range of consumers, and continuing to integrate innovative ingredients and new functional benefits into hybrid beverages."

Today’s consumers love customization and creative concoctions, and crossovers such as carbonated citrus coffee are proving to help the beverage industry evolve. The unusual combo-drinks are proving responsible for a substantial amount of the growth within the non-alcoholic beverage market. According to Mintel’s 2019 Beverage Blurring report, 13% of US adults report drinking hybrid beverages, a number that has triggered shifts away from other larger categories. In addition to this number, Mintel has stated that 16% of consumers would be interested in ready-to-drink cold coffee (RTD coffee) mixed with juices, 17% with lemonade and 12% with carbonation.

Many mainstream roasters have already been well-received within the burgeoning space, having released ready-to-drink hybrids of refreshing flavors in time for summertime enjoyment, such as La Colombe’s Cold Brew Shandy Lemonade and Grapefruit Nitro Cold Brew, as well as Rise Brewing Co.’s Blood Orange Nitro Coffee. The popular Stumptown Coffee Roasters also created a line of citrus-infused Sparkling Cold Brew offerings. The combination of fruit, fizz, and fuel creates a balanced drink that feels light and refreshing, while still packing an energizing punch of caffeine. The result is an unusual yet successful marriage of contrasting flavors profiles.

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The rise of the hybrid beverage category is impressive, and likely stems from consumers’ desires to live healthier lifestyles, on top of satisfying their ongoing search for popular coffee flavors and products. In addition to containing less sugar than a typical soda or juice, hybrids often boast functionality, making them ideal choices for health and wellness-conscious customers.

To be more marketable within today’s massive wave of health trends, many brands also boast how their products offer a little something extra, such as vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and electrolytes. They claim these benefits work to support concerns such as hydration, detoxification, and gut health. Start-up company, Loco Coffee Co., utilizes high-quality ingredients such as coconut water and maple water to create their canned coffee beverages. The simple, two-ingredient products boast a myriad of benefits for feel-good energy, such as antioxidants and naturally low levels of sugar, in order to help fuel active and healthy lifestyles.

By harnessing people’s desires for boosted energy and healthier offerings, brands are creating products that are somewhat along the lines of a ‘coffee elixir.’ Tapping into the hybrid drinks category provides diverse opportunities for development and targeted positioning for companies in the ready-to-drink market, as today’s consumers actively move away from sugar-packed drinks, sodas and alcoholic beverages, in favor of cleaner products that will provide them with a flavorful yet functional fix. Should your brand be interested in further exploring the realm of hybrid beverage concepts and flavors, check out Symrise’s bevvy of resources and trends content for more information.

Read more from our 2019 Coffee Series: Soothing the Caffeine Buzz: CBD + Coffee

Image courtesy of Loco Coffee (@drinkloco).

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