The ABCs of CSDs

 In Blog, Food & Beverage Trends

While industry professionals have likely internalized the over decade long contraction of CSD sales by volume (and general maligning of the category), it’s important to remember that the value of the U.S. carbonated soft drink market (~$74b) still subsumes the value of the coffee (~$19b), tea ($16b), and dairy (~$19b) markets combined. While it may be an uphill battle to capture new & younger consumers in this category since there’s both increased scrutiny on sugar-laden products and diet drinks (a study came out at the beginning of 2019 suggesting a strong link between dementia and stroke in women over 50 and the consumption of just two diet drinks a day), there are a few approaches that both established and emerging brands are taking to stave off product fatigue and encourage consumers to find a usage occasion for their products. Innovation to maintain interest in this category can be seen through more exotic and compelling flavor combinations, twists to the classics, and enhancement or fortification with trendy, functional ingredients – in other words, the ABCs of CSDs.

A is for Adulting:

CSDs with less traditional, more sophisticated and adult-forward flavors are now readily available and attempting to compete with more traditional cocktail mixers, function as less-sweet treats, and provide the kind of novel experiences that many Millennials seek out.

Some newer stand-outs in this segment (note, some might be branded as tonics, elixirs, or other sparkling beverages, but if they’re sparkling and sweetened, we opted to included them here):

  • Jones Soda in Strawberry Lime
  • Sipp Infusions in Cucumber-Basil-Lime, Pineapple-Vanilla-Sage and Strawberry-Lemon-Thyme
  • Olipop in Cinnamon Cola, Ginger-Lemon, and Strawberry-Vanilla
  • Dona Chai in Pink Peppercorn-Lemon, Juniper-Lime and Turmeric-Honeybush
  • Teatulia Tea Sodas in Black Tea-Pineapple-Peach-Lime-Cucumber and Mint Tea-Hibiscus Lemonade
  • Dry Zero Sugar in Ruby Citrus
  • Bar None (Coca Cola VEB) in Spiced Ginger Mule, Bellini Spritz, Dry Aged Cider and Sangria

B is for #BasicBeverages:

Some classics may never go out of style. Along with the little black dress and family dinners, some flavors of CSDs will be part of our collective experience for years to come. Cherry cola, root beer, orange, lemon lime and of course, the legacy cola still post impressive sales, dwarfing many other categories. In many instances, consumers are contented with these basics, but we’re also seeing some twists to the most conventional flavors:

  • Diet Coke in Strawberry-Guava and Blueberry-Acai
  • Jones Soda in sugar free Cream Soda
  • Coca Cola and Coke Zero Sugar in Orange Vanilla
  • Sprite Lymonade

CBD Me, Please:

Green is on the mind of a lot of brand owners and consumers despite the gray area that surrounds the legality of this ingredient, especially in terms of selling CBD-infused products across state lines. Still, many brands are forging their own path and taking steps to incorporate this hemp-derived compound into their sodas for a more sustained, even energy:

  • Pervida with 12mg of Full Spectrum Hemp Oil in Blackberry Papaya
  • Sprig with 20mg of CBD soda in Citrus, Citrus Zero Sugar, Melon Zero Sugar and Lemon Tea Zero Sugar
  • Sparkling CBD with 20mg of Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract in Cola, Lemonade, Ginger Ale, Black Cherry and Root Beer

Looking to reformulate, add a line extension, or enhance your CSD with functional ingredients? Email us at to talk to our team of beverage development experts.