*Tulsi Joshi,

As Indian consumers take a more holistic approach to their well-being, fruit juice’s well-known association with high vitamin content has seen it benefit from increased concerns related to immunity since the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact,nearly half of consumers, especially millennials, have increased their juice consumption, according to Mintel research.

Juices are reinforcing their essential status

 The global pandemic has helped hit the refresh button for the juice category in India and has provided brands with a unique window of opportunity to remind consumers of what they already know: that juices are a source of essential, and immunity-supporting, vitamins. Globally,China tops the list for new juice product launches (6%), followed by the US and Germany (5% each) between November 2019-October 2021. While juice launches have dropped in India between November 2020-October 2021, nearly half of Indians are looking for immunity claims when buying a drink, demonstrating that consumers continue to be interested in products that can help them realize their health goals.

Sugar content is still a point of contention 

Globally, the share of drink launches featuring no added/low sugar claims continued to rise between 2019-2021, especially in juice and nectars. As consumers are increasingly becoming aware of sugar’s link with obesity and other lifestyle diseases, it is important for brands to strike a delicate balance between good taste and cleaner ingredients if they want to keep consumers with diverse sweetener preferences coming back for more. For example, brands can explore lower-sugar recipes by using vegetables, green coconuts or reducing the sugar content through filtration. 

The lines between beverage categories also continue to blur and this will inherently continue to put pressure on juice brands to introduce calorie- and sugar-free options. Opportunities exist to disrupt beverage consumption habits and expand in adjacent categories like carbonated soft drinks as 44% of Indians agree that juice drinks are tastier than the latter. Moreover, about the same proportion from the western region of the country have consumed juices to pair them with snack food items such as pizza and burgers which are traditionally dominated by carbonated soft drinks.

Groovy’s juices are priced at Rs 10 to target the underserved markets in India. The product line claims to be free from any preservatives and comes in six flavors – mango, guava, pomegranate, mint-o-lemon, lychee and mixed fruit (Source: drink_groovy via Instagram; Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD)).

Focusing on functional benefits and making the juice a ‘super-juice’

Immunity claims in juices rose between 2019-2021. But for juice brands to be successful in the long run and compete with nutritional drinks, they must look at functional benefits and not just immunity claims alone. The key will be to focus on ingredients and functionality – whether it’s inherent (e.g. vitamin C) or enhanced (e.g. added vitamins, minerals, herbals, or botanicals).

 Hidden treasures in Indian superfoods are also coming to the forefront including aloe vera. Aloe vera has long been associated with skincare and digestive health and its prominence as a ‘superfood’ – along with other botanical ingredients like ginger and turmeric – is gaining traction, leading to an increase in juice launches featuring such ingredients. Moreover, probiotics offer functional benefits to the immune system, providing a great platform for drink brands to explore.

Aloe Vera Juice – Baidyanath (India) (Source: Mintel GNPD).

Flavor innovations especially for powdered juices will be key to differentiation

 34% of Millennials vs 28% of Gen Z are interested in unusual flavor combinations in juices. Regardless of age, all Indian consumers agree ‘flavor’ is an important factor to consider when choosing between juice products. Powdered juices offer a more economical and space-efficient product as usage occasions have switched to the home. It is critical for juice brands to continue innovating new flavors to create product differentiation and stay relevant. Packaging in sachets and offering a variety of flavors can target consumers for on-the-go economical and customizable juice consumption, as they find them more appealing and fun to try.

Gumi Gumi by Mogu Mogu White Grape Flavoured Juice Strawberry and Macaron Flavoured with Nata de Co (Source: Mintel GNPD).

While refreshment is the primary motivation for Indian consumers to drink juice, brands have an opportunity to expand their product lines focusing on features such as added functional ingredients, exciting flavors, and portion-controlled sizes. They can also amplify the benefits and make the case that flavor does not suffer due to sugar reductions and other related processes. At the same time, juice drink brands can look to other drink categories, as well as other countries, to further boost juices’ appeal to Indian consumers.

*Tulsi Joshi is a Senior Analyst covering the food and drink categories for Mintel Reports India. She has nearly 10 years of diverse experience, working predominantly with Indian FMCG companies in brand management, communications, and marketing. She is curious and passionate to uncover the what, where, when, and why of consumer behaviour.