Relaxation drinks

Relaxation drinks enjoy energetic growth

People have been guzzling energy drinks for the last 10 years – and now they’re also looking to relax. The new phenomenon of alertness and relaxation drinks, which has developed out of the energy drinks category, has risen in less than five years to a retail value of $521 million.

Food and drink consultancy Zenith International estimates that sales volumes have trebled since 2007 to 133 million litres in 2010, with the US becoming by far the largest national market.

“Consumers are now looking for products to help them deal with pressure and to perform effectively without the use of stimulants”, comments Zenith Market Analyst Cecilia Martinez. “Alertness drinks are designed to reduce stress and focus the mind. Relaxation drinks usually contain ingredients solely to assist relaxation and in some cases to aid sleep.”

The concept of alertness and relaxation drinks started in Japan in 2005 with a flurry of products enriched with GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). This market has now matured, but it influenced an explosion of innovation in the US. In Europe the market is just beginning to emerge, but it is hampered by a changing regulatory environment and the full impact of imminent legislation is yet to be seen.

Active ingredients in alertness and relaxation drinks have tended to be: vitamin, mineral or plant-based; amino acids such as L-theanine; or hormones, mainly melatonin. Most drinks contain a combination of active ingredients. One particular challenge is to educate and reassure the consumer of their safety and benefit.

By 2014, US volume sales will exceed 300 million litres, Martinez says, well below the 1.35 billion litres of energy drinks sold in 2009 alone.

“Consumption trends of America show that Americans are always willing to try out new things – relaxation drinks might be one of those things,” says NPD Group Food & Beverage analyst Darren Seifer.

Carbonated soft drinks – or “sodas” to most people in the United States – far outsold the other drinks, with 9.36 billion cases moving in 2010.

Yet growing health consciousness has led many people to reach for drinks they consider healthier, like juices and waters. Many of these drinks claim to boost energy, metabolism and the ability to relax.

As a result, smaller niches are set to gain greater share over the next ten years, according to Seifer, especially as carbonated drink sales fall.

“Relaxation drinks could bring new life into beverages,” says Seifer.

“It gives me a chance to relax from a hard day of work without using something that might land me in jail,” says relaxation drinks consumer Marcus Brook, a Facebook fan of the Drank drink line.

For Denise Ivy, also on Facebook, the drinks helped her cope with the closing of two family businesses: “If it were not for Drank, we would have not gotten any sleep for several weeks.”

Nonetheless, Zenith says levels of ingredients in the drinks may be too small to be effective. To move beyond the next 10 years, companies that make the drinks must prove that they do what they say they do – if the consumer doesn’t feel the effect, then sales would decline.

Source: Zenith International, Reuters