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Relaxation Drinks: The Next Big Thing In Functional Beverages?

 

We all remember when energy drinks started to take off and became the next big thing in the drinks market, essentially creating a completely new functional drinks category.  As Red Bull targeted the on-trade market and entered restaurants and bars, other energy drinks brands followed suit and soon energy drink cocktails were littering the all-night party scene.

Energy drinks are still very relevant today, with more people than ever looking for an ‘on the go’ product to get them through the day.  Indeed, there’s plenty of choice in the category and people can choose anything from a 500ml can of Monster to a 60ml shot of ‘5 hour energy’.

But what happens at the end of a long caffeine fuelled day? How can we unwind and relax after spending the day running around like a headless chicken?  Enter ‘relaxation drinks’ - the relatively new functional drinks category that is set to be the next big thing in FMCG.  These drinks are aimed at those who want ‘one the go’ de-stressing functionality in a can. Relaxation drink maker ‘Tranquini’ has been one of the first brands to bring the category to the UK, aiming to build on their US success.

Of course, alcohol is still an obvious choice when looking to take the edge off at the end of a long day, but the relaxation drinks category should be a hit with those who want to do so without turning to alcohol. However, like many popular soft drinks, relaxation drinks have already entered the on-trade market and can be found in a number of cocktails.

Interestingly though, the new segment is already quite complex, with some drinks designed to help the drinker sleep (Dream Water, Slow Cow and Marleys Mellow Mood Tea) and some offering relaxation and improved focus without causing drowsiness (Just Chill, Tyme Out); the former work on the brain, and the latter on the body.

This helps relaxation drink appeal to a greater range of consumers with varying needs just as energy drinks appealed to both late night party-goers and studying students – and with a broader appeal as energy drinks only really had one function.

So: will relaxation drinks really be as big as energy drinks? (worth £1,480 million in 2014 and a consistent increase in market share since launch).  It’s quite possible.  After all, these categories can be viewed as two sides of the same coin.  The type of person who chooses an energy drink to get them through the day may well be the kind of person to choose a relaxation drink at the end of it. Perhaps then, these two categories will share a very similar audience. 

Having said that, I wonder if relaxation drink brands would struggle to target a new wave of clientele who aren’t just looking to offset their caffeine fuelled day, but just want to relax.  This type of audience may not be very engaged by the offerings of functional drinks and might require a change in marketing tactics to alter their habits.

There seems to be a lot of potential for this new wave of ‘anti-energy drinks’.  At first glance, stressed parents, students or office workers looking for an alternative to alcohol in order to wind down are the obvious target market.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog on the rise of adult soft drinks, people are steadily becoming more health conscious and looking for healthier options when out for a drink.

One things for sure, relaxation drinks are still relatively unknown to the wider population, and a sufficient amount of exposure is needed before they truly become the next big thing. Having said that, I’d certainly like to bet that this will take off and I’d strongly urge those of you who are just hearing about this category to go out and try one for yourself!

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