Alex Beckett
Global Food & Drink Analyst, Alex is responsible for tracking consumer and innovation trends in a wide range of categories including ice cream and bottled water.

There’s an opportunity for brands in the bottled water segment in India to leverage the problems and opportunities that India’s carbonated soft drinks (CSD) market is facing. According to Mintel estimates, the Indian CSD market is projected to see slower sales growth in the coming years.

This is due to increased health awareness among Indian consumers who are, today, deterred by the high sugar content found in many CSDs. Mintel research shows that CSD manufacturers in other countries are encountering similar problems, with consumers switching to bottled water — and is something that could happen in India as well.

Addressing India’s sugar problem

According to Mintel research, almost one in five CSD consumers in India say that this beverage type contains too much sugar. The CSD category has been impacted the most by this consumer sentiment that’s prevalent all over the world; high sugar content and a lack of nutrition have resulted in an overall slowdown in growth not just in India, but also in several other countries.

Meanwhile, Mintel research indicates that flavoured sparkling water remains a niche and undeveloped sector in India. As seen in other countries, brands have the potential to offer products that feature the flavour appeal of CSDs coupled with the sugar-free naturalness of water.

Indian consumers are carefully considering their food and drink choices, driven by concerns around sugar, sweeteners and overall health. As such, flavoured water can thrive by offering a healthier alternative to CSDs.

Enhancing water’s functional benefits

Flavoured water brands should take on the features and functions that consumers look for in CSDs to encourage them to switch categories. Relaxation benefits, added nutrients and alcohol alternatives are all features that water manufacturers can look to incorporate in their products.

Brands can innovate and offer relaxation benefits by using Ayurvedic ingredients, like ashwagandha, that are associated with de-stressing. The launch of Ayurveda water by Finnish bottled water company Veen suggests an appetite for flavoured waters in India.


Veen launched the flavoured Ayurveda-inspired range as a replacement to CSDs. The flavours include amla and tulsi, saffron, and ginger and honey, and are well-placed to resonate with CSD drinkers’ interest in traditional Indian flavours.

Another way to position flavoured water can be as an alternative to alcoholic drinks. With more and more Indians aspiring to lead a healthy lifestyle, it reflects an opportunity for non-sugary soft drinks to provide an appealing option to alcohol. This includes flavoured sparkling water with sophisticated flavours, such as raspberry mint, kiwi lime and more local flavours like Kinnaur apples from Himachal Pradesh in India.

Kingfisher Radler, carbonated non-alcoholic mint and lime flavoured drink

United Breweries Limited (UBL) launched its first non-alcoholic drink ‘Radler’ in October 2018. The drink which is a lemon/lime flavoured non-alcoholic beer was introduced with the aim to win over consumers wanting to reduce alcohol consumption as well as develop their presence in alcohol-free states like Gujarat.