What it takes to Win at the World Beverage Innovation Awards 2021, according to Aparna Oak, Flavor Master

 In Blog, Food & Beverage Trends, FoodBev

As Director of Flavor Innovation at Imbibe, Aparna Oak lives and breathes innovation. With literal visibility into product development across beverage categories (the flavor workspace and development labs are separated only by a window), she can watch and support products coming to life, nine to eighteen months before they hit the shelves. With over 300 projects initiated annually at Imbibe, she is no stranger to getting a glimpse into what brands of all sizes are looking to design to capture consumer interest and increase their market share.

To stand out in Aparna’s eyes, here’s what you’re going to need to consider for your beverage:

  • Unique ingredients (bonus if used in innovative ways) – There continues to be immense interest in ancient wisdom, with products relying not necessarily on new ingredients, but on lesser-known ingredients, or ingredients that have been previously relegated to other categories and formats. Using astragalus or amla, for example, may give you the differentiation you’re after.
  • Immunity opportunity – Immune support remains a top priority for consumers, as the impact of COVID-19 isn’t yet in our rear-view mirror. Infusing immune boosting properties into sparkling water and hydration beverages is also likely to catch Ms. Oak’s eye.
  • Sustainability – Does this product consider its role in resource utilization and environmental strain? The most successful products will have little to no negative impact on the environment.
  • Packaging – The primary packaging play is in the way of transparency. Making sure consumers can easily understand the product attributes, benefits and origin story, where applicable, will help catapult your product to the head of the pack.
  • Function+ – Multi-functional is the name of the game, as the days of a beverage hitting the market to merely satisfy thirst are gone. Many products are now fortified to address multiple need-states and offer many benefits to appeal to a broader consumer base.

Learn more about the World Beverage Innovation Awards and other judges.