Mikolaj Kaczorowski
Mikolaj is an Innovation Analyst at Mintel, and is responsible for analysing new product launches, tying these back to consumer insights, and identifying emerging product trends.

As we kickstart the new year, we take a look back at some of the biggest trends to hit the carbonated soft drinks (CSD) market in Asia Pacific in 2018.

Fortification and functional attributes

Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows that vitamin- and mineral-fortified CSDs have seen gradual growth in launch activity in the APAC region. Fortification can be a relatively low cost for manufacturers and thus have minimal impact on the final retail price. It also has the potential to attract a wider consumer base that is wary of overly processed CSDs.

Appleachia in Australia launched a range of apple cider vinegar-based CSDs which feature health benefit claims and are made with superfoods. According to the brand, apple cider vinegar is known for its ability to reduce bloating, improve digestion, is a natural anti-inflammatory and contains prebiotics, among others. In Japan, Asahi Style Balance released a peach sparkling drink that is formulated with glucosylceramide, an ingredient that is said to help retain moisture in the skin. The product is also FFC certified (Food with Functions Claim) and is free from alcohol, calories as well as sugar.

Applechia’s apple cider vinegar range of carbonated soft drinks

Asahi Style Balance’s peach alcohol-free sparkling drink

Tapping into nostalgia

According to Mintel GNPD, cola is the most popular flavoured CSD for new product development in most markets in APAC, specifically Australia, China, Japan and South Korea.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola are the global behemoths of the cola category with long histories, which they both celebrated by launching limited edition products that feature a historical pack design, sparking interest in colas.

The retro packaging designs and labels spotted on these one-off launches emphasise the brands’ pedigree and history, allowing sales to be driven based on nostalgia and a desire for collectables. For instance, Pepsi launched a range of limited edition cans in Thailand last year with designs from past decades from the 1940s to 1960s. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, launched a limited edition gift set that featured vintage-inspired bottles from circa 1899 to 1916.

Pepsi’s limited edition historical range

331idth=Coca-Cola’s vintage inspired gift set

In APAC alone, some 16% of cola-flavoured CSD launches in 2018 were seasonal while 12% were limited edition.

Enhancing the sensory experience

Exploring textures in the CSD category can offer consumers a more intense sensory experience. In fact, novel texture innovations are primed for expansion as predicted by Mintel’s Global Food & Drink 2018 Trend ‘New Sensations’.

For example, the combination of carbonation and dairy can create a creamy texture that is often not found in CSDs worldwide. However, both yoghurt and milk-flavoured CSDs have seen an increase in APAC. In Thailand Calpis Lacto Soda launched a limited edition strawberry shortcake flavoured carbonated soft drink, last year, which is fermented by Lactobacillus. Suntory Bikkle also released a soda variant in Japan which was described as a fat-free drink that contains four types of lactic acid bacterial and milk oligosaccharides (a type of carbohydrate).

Calpis Lacto Soda’s strawberry shortcake flavoured soft drink

Suntory Bikkle’s soda