C: Ryan Wallace – Unsplash

PepsiCo Inc. plans to branch out into a new beverage category, catering to the transition towards healthy flavors and targeting a new market segment.

Driftwell, Pepsi’s latest brand, is a functional drink to aid consumers wanting to asleep better and relax before bedtime.

The drink comes in a perfect 7.5-ounce (222 mls) and in just one flavor: blackberry lavender.

The enhanced water does not contain sugar or calories, but does contain 200 milligrams of L-theanine; which is usually found in green and black teas and some mushrooms.

Studies suggest that L-theanine is kind of an amino acid capable of improving sleep quality and mitigating physical symptoms of stress.

According to Gallup and the American Psychological Association’s findings, 55% of Americans claim to be suffering from high levels of stress, while 45% report that they suffer from insomnia due to their stress.

To this end, this food and beverage giant is now aiming at shifting lifestyle patterns, and a burgeoning market worth $1 billion and carrying a more than 9.5% four-year compound annual growth rate in over-the-counter sleep aids.

The drinks company announced that Driftwell will roll out – online at first – in December, and will be available in brick-and-mortar stores in the first quarter of 2021.

“I think we’re launching this at a time when there’s more consumer interest than there previously was, given everything that’s going on from a macro perspective.” said Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities at Pepsi’s North American beverages unit.

Driftwell is coming out at a time when COVID-19 is still making headlines.

As such, the ongoing pandemic is helping to boost two areas: the nation’s stress levels, and the public’s awareness of health, which in knock-on effect contributes to a contraction in the demand for carbonated drinks and thereby curtails that segment of the beverage market.

In addition, ‘functional’ drink sales are growing in sync with people’s attention to health issues.

“We think about beverages in three ways: Taste, function and hydration.” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst in NPD Group. “These functional beverages, they’re trying to hit that sweet spot in the middle.”

Pepsi acted immediately in response to the transition in the market and the threat from other functional drink brands, innovating its portfolio to reduce the dependence on particular products.

“It’s a nascent category, and it’s one frankly that we think we can build from a liquid refreshment beverage perspective.” Silver said – to solve stress problems.

C: Ja San Miguel – Unsplash

The drinks company announced that Driftwell will roll out online in December, and will be available in brick-and-mortar stores in the first quarter of 2021.

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