Image: New delivery options for hot drinks bring indulgent experiences to on-the-go consumers. Photo courtesy of Africa Studio

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Hot drinks are a regular part of most consumers’ diets, however a decline in drinking occasions and shift towards on-the-go consumption means that manufacturers have to rethink standard packaging formats to create products that really stand out and provide a functional benefit.

Whether a beverage can be consumed on the go is important to almost half (48%) of global consumers, according to Canadean’s research, which means there is huge potential for the development of more convenient hot beverage formats. To cater to busy consumers, manufacturers are coming up with ever more convenient hot drinks solutions, such as hot chocolate on a stick, eliminating the need for a spoon; drinks in a pouch with a spout, facilitating consumption on the go; as well as single-serve cups with hot drinks that only require hot water.

Edible casings create indulgent drinking experiences

"Fun, unusual, and limited edition edible packs cater to experimental consumers seeking novelties."

Breaking away from flavour enhancement alone, edible packaging solutions are designed to complement hot drinks by providing consumers with more complex, all-round drinking experience. Collaborating with food manufacturers to create such packs will also provide hot drinks producers with a new range of opportunities to create unique offerings and differentiate their products from the mass market, for example by adding edible accessories that draw attention to the drinks and make them stand out.

Fun, unusual, and limited edition edible packs cater to consumers seeking fresh experiences. To capatalise on the edible trend, Canadean recommends that brands launch both traditional variants, featuring seasonal or nostalgic flavours, as well as variants with a new, edgy twist. Traditional flavours, such as gingerbread flavoured sugar on a stirring wand, will evoke feelings of comfort and relaxation associated with hot beverages, while more contemporary flavours, such as pumpkin flavour of the same product, will attract attention to the brand and keep consumers excited. Additionally, limited editions will allow the brands to explore consumers’ preferences before launching the item as a permanent part of the range. Limited editions themed around a new movie release or a social issue can also help secure consumers’ interest.

The edible packaging concept has attracted a great deal of interest from a number of manufacturers in the fast moving consumer goods industry; however, there are only a few examples available on the market so far. One example from 2015 is the launch of an edible cup by KFC UK, which featured a cookie wrapped in edible sugar paper and fortified with a layer of heat-resistant white chocolate.

Despite attracting consumer interest, due to hygiene concerns, edible cups are less likely to become mainstream in coffee shops. The format has far more potential for at home consumption, as consumers can feel more reassured about an item’s hygiene and safety.

Single-used coffee pods offer quality on-the-go

"Brewed coffee is generally considered to be of a higher quality than its instant counterpart."

The growing desire for superior tasting beverages that work alongside increasingly busy lifestyles has led consumers to seek high-quality hot drinks that can be consumed daily as opposed to occasional treats. Brewed coffee is generally considered to be of a higher quality than its instant counterpart. Coffee machines present a viable alternative to coffee shops offering consumers a more premium experience at home; however, they are often bulky and expensive.

As most coffee machines are not portable, consumers can only prepare the drinks at home or at the office. To work around this restriction, manufacturers have be investing in compact single-serve coffee brewing gadgets, which are smaller and lighter than traditional coffee brewing devices, making them easier to transport without compromising on quality.

The Minispresso brand rolled out a compact and ‘featherweight’ pocket coffee maker offering consumers “delicious espresso coffee shots of the extraction quality of a coffee machine” on the go. The gadget promises a “rich and bold” espresso. With a weight of 360g and a size of 175mm, the item can be safely described as portable.

Another interesting gadget serving quality seeking consumers on the go is the Hey Joe Coffee Mug. The mug allows users to regulate the temperature of the coffee, catering to consumers who do not want to wait for the water to cool down. The item features a USB-rechargeable battery which can be charged from computers or laptops. Additionally, the pods are made with biodegradable material with seeds, encouraging consumers to plant used pods; however, consumers have the option of using their own coffee.

Convenient delivery systems conform to on-the-go drinking habits

"Consumers who feel too busy to prepare hot drinks from scratch themselves are increasingly looking for solutions that require minimum effort."

While some consumers look for rituals in hot drinks, such as brewing loose tea, others feel want to minimise the time spent on preparation. Such consumers seek out time-saving packaging options that fit around their busy lifestyles. According to Canadean’s research, 48% of global consumers feel it is important whether a non-alcoholic beverage can be consumed on the go, with the number being significantly higher among the younger generation.

Older generations are less likely to look for convenience drinks packaging, reflecting their preference for consumption habits they are used to and concerns about value for money, as well as the risk of compromising quality for convenience. For manufacturers, consumers’ desire for on-the-go consumption presents an opportunity to bring out more single-serve and portable convenient packaging solutions. Such products can capitalise on more than just offering convenient hydration or an energy boost, as the can also be positioned as facilitating escapism moments on the go.

According to Canadean, consumers who feel too busy to prepare hot drinks from scratch are increasingly looking for solutions that require minimum effort and can be consumed on the go, such as hot drinks that are packaged in cups that require only added water. The trend is especially visible in China, where consumers do not shy away from shrink-wrapped caps with a beverage. Another possibility is microwavable single-serve beverages.

To position their products as superior in quality, manufacturers should use sophisticated packaging such as glass or reusable plastic glass, as high-end designs and materials will convey the image of premium ingredients and craft production techniques.

Spout drinks present a fairly new opportunity for manufacturers to target the market of convenience-seeking consumers. Consumers pour the hot water, and two to four minutes later pour the brewed drink through a convenient spout. The light and convenient format makes the product portable and easy to carry, allowing consumers to enjoy a brew of higher quality on the go. Such pouches often offer consumers additional value for money – which is the third important consumption motivator according to Canadean – by being refillable.

To read the full report, Hot Drinks: Identifying the latest trends for beverage manufacturers in the hot drinks industry, please click here.