How Cross-Category Products Are Reshaping the Functional Beverage Market


functional beverage market
Over the past two decades, functional beverages have become increasingly popular with a wide range of consumers. Developers need to be ready to keep up with the newest market trend toward cross-category beverages.
Image Source: Flickr User carolyn.will

Twenty years ago, most vending machines were stocked entirely with soda. It could sometimes even be hard to find bottled water. However, over the past two decades, the market for functional beverages has exploded. As consumers have become more health-conscious, they’re increasingly rejecting sugar-filled sodas in favor of drinks that offer functional benefits.

From vitamin-enhanced waters to energy-boosting drinks to weight loss teas, functional drinks now cater to consumers who want lots of different things from their drinks. In fact, the hottest new trend in today’s market is the rise of cross-category beverages that have multiple functionalities. As this new trend redefines the functional beverage market, industry leaders will need to be able to keep up with consumer demand and lead the way in developing new cross-category functional beverages.

In the past, the functional beverage industry was divided into four categories: hydration, health, energy and weight management. This meant that developers of each type of functional beverage were catering to a different sector of the market. It also meant that the overall consumer base for functional beverages was extremely diverse. It included mothers who wanted to make sure their children were getting enough vitamins, college students desiring energy to stay up all night studying for finals, elite athletes hoping for a performance boost and middle-aged women eager to try out new weight loss techniques. With so many people interested in functional beverages, it was only a matter of time before they began to look beyond their traditional functional beverage categories and consider the advantages of other options. Cue the rise of the cross-category beverage.

Blurring the Lines Between Functional Beverage Categories

Today, functional beverage developers are combining different ingredients in order to produce drinks that straddle the line between functional beverage categories. When one of these multifunctional drinks hits the market, its popularity can skyrocket overnight. For beverage developers, this means that there is increasing pressure to keep up with consumer demand. In order to do so, many developers have turned to formulation development software. This technology makes it easy for labs to automate data collection and reuse past results in order to reduce error, improve the quality of formulations and speed the overall development process. As a result, developers are able to get a new beverage on the market quickly, before the frenzy surrounding a new cross-category beverage dies down.

The latest formulation development software also makes it easier and faster for labs to develop entirely new formulations that spark trends in the cross-category beverage market. This opens up significant opportunities for innovation—a weight management drink that prevents muscle loss by including amino acid ingredients or a new sports performance formulation that includes antioxidants to keep athletes hydrated for longer. The possibilities are endless, and as new technologies increase the efficiency of the development process, labs will have the chance to experiment with more formulations and invest their time in developing the most promising cross-category beverages.

The rise of cross-category beverages also provides opportunities to expand the already-enormous functional beverage market. Some cross-category beverages might appeal to new niches of consumers that have not been interested in functional beverages in the past. For instance, many athletes in non-traditional sports such as ultramarathon running and rock climbing scorn conventional sports drinks for being unnatural, preferring to fuel their activities with “real food.” Still, these athletes need to stay hydrated and replenish nutrients lost in sweat, so there could be a new market for cross-category beverages that fulfill their athletic needs using only the all-natural ingredients found in beverages in the health category. Appropriate software makes it easier for labs to develop new formulations that cater to the specific needs of new cross-category niches of consumers by improving research and development methods.

More Than Just Mixing: Maintaining the Quality of Cross-Category Beverages

At the same time, as labs develop new cross-category beverages, they have to make sure that they are still producing high-quality formulations. In today’s market, it’s not enough to simply combine a few different ingredients and call the result a cross-category beverage. Consumers are increasingly aware of whether or not a functional beverage actually lives up to its claims.1 With so many options on the market, people aren’t afraid to abandon energy drinks that just make them jittery and weight loss drinks that provide only a short-term drop on the scale. Beverage developers need to be sure that new cross-category beverages provide innovative functionality without sacrificing flavor. A recent study found that seventy-two percent of consumers are influenced by flavor when choosing between functional beverages.2 As a result, more labs are using software that makes it easier to improve both the functionality and the flavor of their formulations.

Another important consideration when it comes to developing cross-category beverages is safety. This is particularly relevant for energy drinks and weight loss beverages, which sometimes contain ingredients that have powerful effects on the body. As the functional drink market has grown, the FDA has tightened safety regulations and functional beverage designers would benefit from making sure that their products meet existing regulatory standards. Safety becomes even more important as developers combine functional ingredients in new ways to design cross-category beverages. Again, software can help developers ensure safety. Throughout the testing process, software tracks results in order to monitor if a new formulation meets safety and compliance standards.

As cross-category beverages continue to dominate the functional beverage market, software will be an increasingly important tool for developers as they design innovative beverages that meet growing consumer demand. The BIOVIA Formulations Solution provides all of the tools your lab needs to improve the efficiency of formulation development and maximize the quality of your products. It also makes it easy to stay in compliance with regulatory standards so that your researchers can focus on functionality and flavor. Contact us today to learn more about how this software can help your firm develop a popular new beverage for the market.

  1. “What to Watch in Functional Beverages,” May 13, 2016,
  2. “Hybrid beverages may drive category growth,” March 23, 2016,