Flavouring Japan’s carbonated soft drinks market

May 21, 2019
3 min read

In Japan, we are seeing considerable shifts in consumer attitudes and consumption choices when it comes to food and drink. Rising health awareness means healthier food and drink product choices are now more prevalent among all demographic groups in the country.

According to Mintel estimates, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) is one of the many categories affected by these shifts, and as a result, has been stagnant for several years. The sugglish performance of CSDs in Japan is due to the uptick in health trends, the falling number of vending machines and competition from carbonated mineral waters. In light of this, market players need to take action to rejuvenate this category.

However, limited editions—be it in flavour or packaging—are a bright spot for the market, serving as a means to reviving sales and have proven to be a popular tool for engaging with younger consumers. Coca-Cola has become a category leader in this respect.

Peach flavour
Coca-Cola Peach was first introduced in 2018, and its 2019 edition contains 1% white peach juice for a richer flavour. This launch works well especially as peach is among the most popular fruits in China.

Indigestible dextrin
Coca-Cola Plus Carbonated Drink with Indigestible Dextrin is FOSHU-certified, calorie-free and formulated with indigestible dextrin to prevent fat absorption.

One-of-a-kind packaging

Coca-Cola introduced in 2018 a range of limited-edition bottles with special designs to highlight the history and culture of six cities and regions in Japan, including Tokyo, Kyoto and Yokohama.

New flavours to create positive experiences for younger consumers

As the CSD category faces an increasingly challenging time in Japan, the introduction of new flavours may be a viable strategy for manufacturers in the industry. Despite the rapidly ageing population, brands still need to keep in mind the younger generation and the expectations they have of food and drink. Younger consumers are generally more curious, independently minded and experimental than the older generations—and as a result, have different consumption habits.

Given their more experimental nature and greater willingness to try new things, flavours will play a key role in helping CSD brands find new opportunities for consumer engagement. As Mintel Trend ‘Experience is All’ explains, consumers all over the world are interested in food and drink brands that offer memorable sensory experiences (eg taste, visual).

Japan Cola Pepsi (Source: PR Times)

One of the latest launches to join the CSD market is the Pepsi Japan Cola that is exclusive to Japan. Pepsi Japan Cola is said to contain some unique ingredients which enhance the original taste of cola, while offering consumers a traditionally Japanese experience. This Japan-exclusive offering includes yuzu and salt, and comes in two variants: regular sugar and zero calories.

This bold flavour combination is well-positioned to offer Japanese consumers an enhanced drinking experience that’s unusual yet traditional by nature. Yuzu is a popular flavour in Japan that can appeal to younger consumers who are more health-oriented; and salt is known to play an important role in Japanese cuisine.

In all, limited-edition variants or new, unusual flavour combinations can offer CSD companies new areas for engaging with Japan’s younger generation of consumers.

Regina Maiseviciute
Regina Maiseviciute

Regina is a Global Food & Drink Analyst. As part of the analyst team she provides insights on product innovation, trends and packaging and market developments globally.

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