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Relaxation Nation: Trends in Calming Beverages

By: Kristen Walker, Mintel Research Consultancy
Posted: July 16, 2010

The proliferation of technologies aimed to help consumers stay connected, efficient and virtually accessible has led to increasingly hectic lifestyles. As consumers continue to pack more work, school and social activities into already overscheduled day planners, many are seeking ways to stay energized and motivated; energy drinks have subsequently boomed in-market. In fact, Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) finds that global energy drink introductions jumped 10% from 2006 to 2009. Despite this strong year-on-year boost in energy drink activity, a counter trend has emerged, and “anti-energy” drinks are seeing traction in market. Relaxation, stress relief and calm-inducing positioning platforms have moved beyond herbal tea to bring a new benefit to the functional beverage market at large.

Give the People What They Want
Research published in Mintel’s report, "Functional Beverages—US," published in 2009, finds that there is strong demand for functional beverages that work as mood enhancers and stress relievers. Nearly half (45%) of all functional beverage buyers expressed a desire for beverages that help enhance mood, while another 49% of all functional beverage users would like more beverages with the benefit of relieving stress. Although this functional benefit represents just a small percentage of overall beverage activity worldwide, drinks positioned around relaxation and calming have more than doubled from 2006 to 2009 and are on track to continue this trajectory through 2010.

Functional Calming Ingredient Activity
Today’s “prove it” consumer mentality means that manufacturers must create products that provide specific benefits and back the beneficial claims with a transparent formulation. Trusted functional ingredients, clear labeling and savvy positioning must all work together to help build consumer trust, and many manufacturers of relaxation and anti-stress beverages have found innovative ways to tout their unique benefits.

Strong natural positioning has emerged with many relaxation products as natural supplements and herbs such as kava root, valerian root, St. John’s wort and other calming elements are appearing on ingredient panels. For example, in the United Kingdom, Fushi Organic Herbal Tea is available in a Peace variety that contains a blend of relaxing sedative herbs, including chamomile flowers, valerian root, St. Johns wort, passion flower and orange blossom. The tea is made with organic ingredients and is said to bring true harmony to body and soul. In the United States, Mary Jane's has launched Relaxing Soda, a natural beverage that contains a blend of kava extract and passion flower, two herbs known for their powerful relaxation and calming effects.

Aromatherapy Benefits Hit Beverages
Across food, beverage and non-food product categories, manufacturers are borrowing various elements and introducing them in new categories to help products stand apart in market. Relaxation beverages have been no exception, with many products touting formulations full of natural herbs, botanicals and other essences that are popular in aromatherapy home, bath and body products. Some of the more common aromatherapy ingredients appearing in calming and relaxation beverages include chamomile, rosehips, lavender and lemon verbena.

For example, in India, Firefly Chill Out Drink is a natural drink formulated with blackcurrant and redcurrant juices, cinnamon and lemon balm to help consumers relax. In the United States, VIB Mango Lime Carbonated Drink is described as a happy relaxation drink, which is caffeine-free and low-calorie. According to the manufacturer, VIB, which stands for Vacation in a Bottle, is claimed to keep the body refreshed while amino-acids relieve stress and make the consumer feel happy. Added B vitamins are also intended to be calming. Available in North America, Slow Cow relaxation drink claims to provide an acupuncture session, a vacation and total relaxation in a can. The product contains L-theanine, an amino acid claimed to help induce relaxation benefits, as well as chamomile, passion flower and valerian root.

Stress Specificity
In recent years, the functional food and beverage market has seen much fragmentation as manufacturers work to formulate products that speak to specific consumer preferences and need states. Although the relaxation beverage market targets a very specific mood state, a number of products have taken that targeting one step further and products that promise to relax and de-stress consumers during very specific times and situations are appearing on store shelves.

Consider the Peaceful Remedies company, which has introduced two US products that are formulated to reduce stress during air travel. Relaxzen Day Flight Sky Berry Relaxation Beverage is formulated to promote peaceful and relaxing day flights through its non-drowsy formulation that includes GABA, chamomile and ginkgo biloba. The company also has a Night Flight Relaxation Beverage with melatonin to induce both relaxation and sleep. In Germany, Rika Headstart Focus Plus Citrus and Kiwi Drink contains B vitamins and is said to reduce stress and improve concentration; it is suitable for sports, school and business. 

Beyond beverages, stress-relieving and relaxation-inducing benefits have emerged in unexpected categories including snack bars, confection and even pet treats, indicating that this trend is taking hold and we will continue to see relaxation innovation in the marketplace.

Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) tracks new product launches, trends and innovations internationally. For more information, visit www.mintel.com or call 1-312-932-0600.