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How to Identify Beverage Industry Trends Before Your Competitors

3 2022

Being responsive to shifting consumer tastes is critical to strengthening your brand. Spotting industry beverage trends early and acting quickly is key.

Whether you’re an established brand or new to the market, spotting the latest beverage industry trends early on is your secret weapon to gaining a leg up on the competition.

RC Cola has a solid history of detecting beverage trends before our competitors. Establishing the first best-by-taste blind test in the industry, debuting an aluminum can to preserve the best flavor possible, and introducing Diet Rite - the first reduced-sugar soda on the national market - are just a few examples of early adoption to trends that have kept RC Cola relevant for more than 110 years.

So how did we manage to consistently stay ahead of the curve? Here’s what you need to know on the best ways to stay on top of beverage trends in 2022. 

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How to be the first to detect beverage trends in 2022

1. Embrace social listening

Social media platforms are far more than channels that simply help you connect with your customers Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or another social media site, you need to leverage these platforms as a rich source of consumer information. 

Monitoring social media is the best way to stay abreast of the current consumer conversations. That means staying on top of trending hashtags and carefully analyzing comments from consumers, especially on your competitors’ pages.

As the conversation around healthy food constantly evolves (remember the fat-free trend of the early 90s?) social media can help you understand just what consumers are considering healthy today. By introducing an ingredient that has growing buzz into your products, you can leverage the hype around a super food to differentiate your brand.

Food and beverage trends are also more visible than ever. You can spot which aesthetically pleasing drinks are resonating with audiences on Instagram. By crafting an offering that’s Instagrammable, you can enhance organic engagement with your brand rapidly.

Keeping up with influencers is also a great way to detect and identify beverage trends early. By monitoring their feeds and seeing what they’re promoting, you can introduce products that are perfectly attuned to the trends sweeping social media and set your brand apart from the pack. 


2. Tune into current events

Major events naturally impact consumer purchasing habits and preferences. For example, as the pandemic made eating out in restaurants less appealing, on-the-go takeaway food options and assemble-at-home gourmet meals exploded in popularity. By staying aware of the news, you can spot potential changes and respond quickly to shifts in both domestic and global markets.

Younger customers in particular have changed their behavior in this area in response to the pandemic, with almost a quarter having picked up the habit of purchasing a hot drink to go when on a walk with a friend since March 2020.says The Specialty Food Magazine. Describing the change in drink purchasing habits during the pandemic.

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3. Explore focus groups

It might sound old-fashioned, but focus groups are a great way to obtain customer feedback that keeps you up-to-date on what’s trending, as well as helping you adjust and tailor your product to optimize success. The numbers speak volumes - brands spend more than $2 billion each year on focus groups, where people give honest feedback on new or already existing products.

These groups can give you unparalleled insights into what your target audiences are interested in, as they can tell you directly about new ideas, concepts, and ingredients that they find intriguing. It can also be a very cost effective strategy for your company. The beauty of focus groups is that you can tailor it exactly to your brand's needs. 

Do you need a quick turnaround on feedback for a new product? Then a small intimate group of participants could suit your needs. Perhaps you need feedback on your new messaging. In this case, a larger online focus group may be the most efficient use of your time. The possibilities are endless!


4. Industry networking

You can learn a lot from your competitors and other players in the beverage industry. Make sure you devote resources to staying-up-to-date with trade events. Attending shows, events and conferences allows you to meet suppliers, try new products and educate yourself on new ingredients. 

Individual networking is a powerful tool in your beverage marketing arsenal. By developing connections with other people in the industry, you can gain everything from insights into what’s working for your competitors to leads for new customers, and more.

Not sure how to start networking? Alice Cheng, the founder and CEO of the hospitality networking site Culinary Agents, says to think about networking as a way to find partners to help you achieve your business milestones. 

“Have a goal for yourself and look for opportunities to meet someone that can get you to that goal,” she advises.

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5. Invest in research

What are the latest government regulations that apply to your market? What about recent offerings from your competitors that have made an impact? Scour the media for press releases, reports from governmental and private agencies and research groups, and see what stories are making headlines. Identifying beverage trends in 2022 is significantly easier when you’re aware of what’s going on in the industry on a larger scale.

Even industry titans with the lion’s share of the market understand that remaining in the loop with the latest developments, from regulatory, legal, and consumer preference perspectives,  is a crucial factor for success. Businesses that do not stay up-to-date about both what’s happening  in their industry on both a domestic and global scale are bound to flounder.


Cutting through the noise

Once you’ve established a list of potential trends, it’s time to vet them and see which are feasible for your business to pursue. Not every trend is going to be a good fit for your brand, and trying something new does carry some risk. 

Use data to determine whether or not a trend has lasting potential or is simply a passing fad. Check out market numbers to see if a specific phenomenon that’s popular on Instagram or TikTok is actually translating into real world sales. Try focus groups or customer surveys to see if a potential new or updated product would resonate with your target audiences.

RC Cola has been a pioneer in recognizing trends early on and leveraging that information to lead the way with innovative products. Let us help you develop the right strategy for responding to changing consumer preferences and market trends in real-time.

Get in touch with the RC Cola Team!