When dining out, either at a restaurant or in a non-commercial cafeteria, drink choices used to be pretty predictable—coffee, tea, juice, milk, some soft drinks and perhaps one or two specialty beverages. In today’s world, however, consumer preference for healthier beverages, as well as many municipalities’ tax on sodas, has made space for a drink that’s really taken off—sparkling water. Flavored or unflavored, it’s become a hit in virtually every segment, from convenience stores and commercial restaurants to grocery stores and non-commercial operations.
Rapid growth across the beverage industry
Sparkling water’s rapid growth and popularity has meant big business for retailers and operators alike. Consumers are eager to try the newest, trendiest flavor, and many drink it as an alternative to soda. Whether they’re drinking seltzer to avoid the sugar in soda or they just love the taste, it means a potential boost to the bottom line for those selling it. In fact, according to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage report, a third of consumers say they are now purchasing flavored sparkling water more often than they were two years ago.
With little to no calories, as well as little to no sweeteners, sparkling water is a favorite among consumers who are looking for healthier options. Technomic’s Beverage report found that 52% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase beverages that have no high fructose corn syrup, while 51% say the same about beverages with reduced sugar and 44% feel similarly about sugar-free beverages.
Beyond that, 47% of consumers say they think foodservice locations should offer healthier beverages, while 40% say they would like more restaurants to offer healthful soda options. Within colleges and universities, as well as healthcare facilities, more operators are introducing healthier food and beverages to meet those preferences.
Unique flavors and refreshing tastes
According to MenuMonitor, the most frequently menued sparkling water flavors include lime, grapefruit, raspberry, lemon, orange and cherry. But as anyone who’s been buying sparkling water for a while knows, it’s only a matter of time before another delicious flavor is introduced.
What’s more, new equipment can deliver customized beverages with flavors that consumers can choose on-demand. Unique flavors such as coconut, peach mango, strawberry lemongrass, watermelon, pear, lime-mint and cucumber sparkling water mean that consumers have more options than ever, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and repeat visits.
Whether they’re choosing it for health or just because they love the taste, customers are flocking to sparkling water. For operators in higher education or healthcare settings, it presents an opportunity for profit. Customers’ preferences for healthier options, combined with operators’ desire to offer a variety of beverages, means sparkling water is a win-win choice.
This post is sponsored by Bevi