Freshly Crafted Sodas: The Next Big Thing

January 15, 2015

Supermarkets can rejuvenate soda counters to quench new demand for healthier, personalized, non-alcoholic drinks.

We’re on the bubble of a new soft drink era.

It is potentially healthier. Socially driven too (gift someone you like a drink). Empowered consumers could drink customized flavors. And motivated food retailers could bring back a beloved, family-friendly in-store destination – the soda counter – with a jazzy new twist: freshly crafted sodas served by mixologists.

That’s a lot to swallow at once. 

Yet we believe there’s a major new soft drink opportunity about to emerge – similar to the launch of beer cafes and juice bars in supermarkets, and the proliferation of coffee houses. Thanks largely to Coca-Cola Freestyle and Pepsi Spire vending machines opening consumers’ eyes to what’s possible, a Millennial’s next sparkly drink could be nothing like the one before.  

Our take at The Lempert Report is that human intervention – mixologists using some version of these units behind a bar or counter – could amp up the appeal of these vending innovations to give customers even more taste diversity.  Imagine tailoring drinks further with fresh mint or basil from the produce department, superpremium ice cream flavors from the freezer case, and spices from center-store.

The basis of drinks could be from a vending unit or not. Sugared syrup and carbonated water aren’t the only choices. Consider orange soda made with orange juice and a less effervescent Perrier. Similar to the way shoppers pick up craft beer growlers at the food stores, these sodas could be poured and sealed to go – they’d last a few days.

Mix in more fun with salted pretzel rods, licorice and other classic treats. Fly to Charlotte, NC, for a novel experience or at least visit the website of Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop to sense how they became a local sensation. 

Then craft your own destination – and be part of the recast of what Walgreens gave America about 100 years ago.