French over-55s raise a glass to sparkling water

March 27, 2017
3 min read

With a potential link between thirst-quenching appeal and cold carbonated drinks, Mintel research reveals that over-55s in France are more likely than average to prefer sparkling water to still. Such preference, combined with the country’s ageing population, could present opportunities for bottled water companies to better engage with this group, particularly considering older people are at high-risk for dehydration.

Over-55s prefer carbonated water

The relationship between drinking to quench a thirst and drinking to hydrate was the focus of a recent study published in November 2016 by Rutgers University in New Jersey. The study’s participants were asked to drink a certain amount of water from an opaque glass, and then indicate how much water they believed they had drunk. In what the researchers described as a “volume illusion,” the drinkers thought they had drunk a larger volume of water when it was cold and carbonated than when it was still and at room temperature. Although drinks consumed at room temperature and without carbonation hydrate just as effectively as cold and carbonated beverages, these latter features make beverages more appealing to consume, helping to stave off dehydration, or so the study claims. This is a particularly pertinent area for seniors, who are at high risk of dehydration owing to physiological changes like a reduced sensation of thirst, and also reduced functionality of the kidneys.

In light of these findings, it is interesting to note that bottled water users aged over-55 in France are less likely than younger adults to prefer still bottled water, and more likely than average to prefer carbonated water. As suggested by the study, the reason could be that the rewarding sensation of feeling their thirstiness quenched heightens the appeal of carbonated water for older adults.

How much carbonation is too much?

The ageing population in Europe is something that bottled water manufacturers can capitalise on. As Mintel Trend ‘Retired for Hire’ discusses, brands and manufacturers have an opportunity to help preserve and maintain the lifestyles of an ageing workforce. Gaining a clearer understanding of the needs and preferences of over-55s can help bottled water brands to more effectively develop insight into their needs, potentially encouraging further usage. For example, although over-55s in France are core users of sparkling water, they are more likely than younger adults to prefer the level of carbonation to be lower, rather than higher. Hence, for producers looking to engage with France’s ageing population, lightly carbonated waters is the way to go, as they may be considered more thirst quenching.

Alex Beckett is a Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel. Prior to that he spent nearly three years writing UK-based consumer reports on a wide variety of food and drink categories. Prior to joining Mintel, Alex was Food and Drink Editor of highly-regarded food industry magazine, The Grocer.

Alex Beckett
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.

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