Who can blame beverage marketers for building a new category? Traditional carbonated beverages have come under fire from nutritionists and 501552_a_blank_red_canenvironmentalists are harping about bottled water. And possibly, some consumers have had enough of being energized by their beverages. In response to all this turmoil, marketers are looking to grow a new category – relaxation beverages.

A Washington Post article highlights some of the most recent entrants in this niche. Look for brands such as Vacation in a Bottle, Blue Cow and Drank to try to make it big in the next few years.  This emerging category is still a small percentage of the $50 billion annual nonalcoholic beverage industry. For example, soda sales rang up at $13.1 billion in 2008 and the relatively new energy group was valued at $896 million.

The article cites NPD analyst Harry Balzer who believes “there is room for so much diversification within the beverage market.” One of the difficulties faced by any new entrant is how to be unique, appealing and differentiated enough to grab consumer interest.  For example, over 300 new energy drinks were introduced in the 5 year period between 2003 and 2008.

For now, marketers in the relaxation category are chasing the young urban male demographic. However, they are also touting the properties of one special ingredient, theanine. This sounds like the relaxation drinks could have crossover appeal into the hectic lives of young women. And while the category is relatively new, creative marketing should boost revenues.

[Source: Mui, Ylan. Soft Drinks Get Softer, Washington Post, 8.14.09]