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Teetotalism trends in the Asia-Pacific region are becoming increasingly prevalent, with approximately *3three out of four (71 %) of consumers drinking less alcohol in August 2020, according to a survey by leading data and analytics company GlobalData. However, the adoption of alternative soft drinks remains low, at only one in five* consumers. In fact, APAC customers surveyed are more attracted by health claims – specifically products noted to help support mental wellbeing – with such products purchased by nearly a third of consumers. Going forward, it will be crucial for drinks brands to blur the lines around traditional alcoholic products and offer ‘better for you’ messaging.

Carmen Bryan, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “APAC consumers are turning away from alcohol driven by concerns around physical and mental health. While general health concerns take precedence, backed by *almost half (49 %) of the region’s population, weight management, fitness, physical appearance and emotional wellbeing are all considerable factors driving low or no-alcohol innovations.”

Recognizing this trend, New Zealand-based companies Adashiko and Parker Beverages recently launched a collagen-infused bottled water, marketed as ‘premium’ and ‘sophisticated’. This launch leverages growing demand for alternatives to alcohol that incorporate functional properties, writes GlobalData.

Bryan adds: “By incorporating functional and beneficial ingredient formulations, companies such as Adashiko-Parker Beverages are able to align to personalized health trends and cater to an evolving consumer landscape.”

Looking at alcohol consumption trends more closely, GlobalData’s research reveals that, of the *271 % of consumers drinking less, a sizeable *20 % (one in five) have stopped drinking alcohol altogether. In contrast, when asked a similar question in the US.

Bryan adds: “As pubs and bars closed their doors this year, and tensions regarding public health heightened, consumers were forced to reassess their priorities and lifestyles. Trends are shaping new home-bound leisure and social occasions where consumers seek the same taste and feel of mature drinks without the negative implications.”

Japanese FMCG company, Morinaga, is leveraging these trends with its amazake product range. Most notably, the Morigana Collagen in Haenuki flavour puts a healthy twist on the traditional sweet and low-alcohol Japanese drink by highlighting the high collagen and alcohol-free claims.

Bryan adds: “GlobalData’s research highlights the importance of premium positioning and clear ‘better for you’ messaging. By leveraging wellbeing factors such as natural, immunity-boosting or skin health, brands can create a premium product that blurs consumers’ perceptions around traditional alcoholic products. A rebranding mission, of sorts. Going forward, it will be crucial for brands to blur these lines further, emphasizing the positive health credentials that will help reassure consumers, both mentally and physically, to tap into multiple consumption occasions and justify a potentially higher price mark up.”

*GlobalData’s 2020 market pulse survey – Asia-Pacific – published 1 September  2020
*2Combined responses: “I try to consume a moderate amount” and “I am trying to reduce my intake as much as possible”
*3Combined responses: “I try to consume a moderate amount”, “I am trying to reduce my intake as much as possible”, and “I avoid this entirely”

Mental health is a pressing concern around the world with many consumers turning to health enhancing ingredients to help relieve a range of conditions including stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Whilst the food and beverages industry is awash with products that deliver on health, wellbeing and energy, mental health related new product development (NPD) has lagged behind with demand for these types of products varying amongst regions, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Consumer research from GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Top Trends in Healthcare and OTC Products 2018 – The latest trends in: OTC medication; vitamins, minerals, and supplements; functional food and drink; and sports nutrition’, reveals that 66 % of European consumers say that stress is a pressing mental health concern followed closely by overwork (56 %) and insomnia (55 %).

William Grimwade, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData comments, “There is clearly an opportunity for beverage manufacturers in Europe to develop products with mental health enhancing functionality.

“A high percentage of beverages in the region contain fortified and nutraceutical ingredients and 61 % of consumers say that soft drinks are their preferred method of consuming health enhancing ingredients.”

Health drinks have often been characterised as simply low sugar or energy boosters fortified with caffeine, vitamins or minerals. Mental health is a growing concern, but fortified drinks rarely address this need.

However, ingredients such as Gingko Biloba, Turmeric and Lecithin are increasingly being used in this field with companies like Coca-Cola investing in new emerging ingredients like Cannabidiol or CBD oil.

Grimwade adds, “With stress and overwork being the top mental health concerns in Europe driven by long working hours and the political and economic turmoil in the region creating so much uncertainty, demand for drinks fortified with stress and anxiety relieving ingredients will only increase.”