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If you think about it, consumers’ perceptions of health and wellness dramatically shifted in the last 5-10 years. Consumers’ food and beverage habits are consistently changing and evolving as we learn more about new and different dietary lifestyles. 

A global beverage company wanted to understand how these lifestyle/diet changes have influenced beverage behaviors. Particularly, consumers’ desire to seek more from their beverage experiences. This company was interested in uncovering how they could revolutionize the beverage category for the future. 

The C+R research team developed a multi-phase qualitative approach including new innovative methodologies to uncover deep consumer behaviors in real context and to push consumers to visualize future possibilities within the beverage category. 


The innovation department from a major beverage company came to C+R Research to better understand consumers’ emotional and physical beverage needs states and gaps, which provided white space opportunities for new product innovations. The research was designed knowing that the beverage category is crowded with many brands and product types, and consumer usage and attitudes around their beverages in the home can vary widely depending on many occasional and mood factors.

The brand’s ultimate goal was to develop a new portfolio of beverage products that would entice and re-recruit lapsed drinkers into their beverage category.

The company sought a comprehensive study of the beverage category, including typical behaviors and attitudes towards specific beverage subcategories, as well as perceptions of new/trending beverage innovations or categories in the beverage space. The team was interested in learning how consumers select beverages in the moment to understand motivators/triggers for new trial opportunities.
In addition, the company desired a creative way to elicit new beverage ideas that were outside the box, via consumer co-creation techniques, to push the beverage category in a new direction.


The research team discovered that consumers are seeking an elevated experience from their beverages, but current offerings in the beverage landscape all “taste” the same. Additionally, the team learned that consumers’ beverage arsenals are vast and directly influenced by mood and the appropriate occasion at any given moment. This finding provided opportunity for the company to fill in new beverage opportunities for moods or occasions where options are currently lacking or minimal.

One key finding was that consumers’ beverage philosophy shifts based on life stage (age, having kids, etc.), and therefore, beverages are strategically chosen to meet their lifestyle needs and to promote a healthier happier “me” of the future. It is because of this that consumers expect more nutritional/health benefits from the beverages of the future.
Because of this shift in making health the priority, more than ever before, consumers are finding creative ways to treat themselves without the added need for alcohol or cocktails. Sophisticated flavor combos with exotic fruits make the beverage experience seem more “adult” or special than the everyday.
Based on the findings and consumer co-creation, the client used this information along with quantitative white space data to plan a strategy around its innovation opportunities. They also planned to develop specific demographic-centric solutions based on moods, occasion, and specific lifestyle needs to reach lapsed drinkers in a highly targeted way.
This research also brought to light the importance of the following: using presentation at shelf to connect the emotional and physical benefits of what’s inside and delivering on these promises with a heightened taste experience when consumed.


A three-phase qualitative approach of consumer immersion and ideation was undertaken to get a deep understanding of emotional and physical need states regarding the beverage category. This involved several immersion techniques including online immersion, digital mashups/co-creation, and in-person beverage immersions.
We began with a 3-week online immersion where consumers journaled their beverage occasions and documented their thoughts and perceptions via video, photos, and creative exercises. In addition, consumers participated in a deprivation and inundation exercise to get a rich understanding of motivators and new trial barriers.

The online immersion approach was followed by a creative ideation session. Round 1 involved short “digital mash-ups” with groups derived from phase 1 to reflect on their beverage experiences from the past 3 weeks and to participate in some creative projective techniques to foster new/unique beverage concepts that could fill the voids.

In addition, we completed in-person beverage immersions with friend groups, which involved co-creation exercises in which participants were asked to bring in unique ingredients to help drive creative thinking as they developed new beverage concepts. 

Insights were highlighted in an interactive sizzle reel for the client team to share for organizational buy in. The results have helped the brand isolate potential territories or spaces to innovate towards within the beverage category and to set itself apart from competitors in consumers’ minds.