According to two years of search data, consumers are into process, earthy flavors and premium water.
Product and marketing gurus spend their entire lives trying to figure out what consumers want. Seeing as you can't crack open people's heads and simply look at what's inside, it's tricky work. But Google believes it has the next best thing to head-cracking: search data. And from there, the tech giant tries to decipher all sorts of trends—including the all-important question: What are people currently looking for in their beverages?
For its Beverage Trends Report 2017, Think with Google—the brand's data insights arm—looked at search data from April 2015 to March 2017 to try to better understand what sustained trends were actually driving what people drink.
"The beverage category is evolving so quickly that it's a challenge to pinpoint which trends matter most," authors Yarden Horwitz, Trends Brand Strategist, and Olivier Zimmer, Trends Data Scientist, wrote. "[This report] alleviates the guesswork." Overall, they isolated three key trends: "process becomes primary," "flavors go earthy" and "more water, more premium."
For the idea of "process," the report highlights a number of search terms where process is key to the product's name: cold brew coffee, nitro coffee, raw juice and infused water to name a few. "How a drink is made is just as important as what's in it," the authors write. "Whether it's driven by health, taste or connoisseurship, we see growing interest in beverages that are defined by the key process through which they are made." (As an interesting aside, the report also found, "Searches for cold brew retail brands spike at 2 p.m., but consumers are more likely to [search for how to] DIY cold brew in the evenings around 8 p.m.." Creepy!)
When it comes to earthy flavors, Google cites "kombucha, matcha, oolong, chamomile and turmeric" as searches that signal this growing trend. "Plant-based ingredients are bringing bold new flavor notes to the beverage equation," the report states.
Lastly, though obsession with water isn't a new phenomenon, the authors suggest that what people are looking for into their H20 is changing.
"Based on Google Search data, growth in water is being fueled by interest in a more enhanced hydration experience," the report states. "We see growing interest in safe, clean and accessible water options. We also see increased consumer demand for more premium water, elevated via process or container." Examples of these searches include alkaline water, sparkling water and water filter.
The takeaway, it seems, would be that if you're looking to launch a beverage brand, maybe consider making a matcha-infused sparkling water! Or maybe the takeaway is simply to know that Google is always watching you!