The Beverage Industry's Evolution Over Thirty Years

Glass soda bottles in assorted flavors lining photographed close-up on shelf

If you’re old enough to remember the 1990s you are aware that a lot has changed since then. The biggest change is obviously the introduction of the internet and the fact that nearly every human now carries around more computing power on their smartphone than was used to put men on the moon. But other things have changed as well over the past 30+ years, including, as we at Colorado’s Best Drinks can attest, the beverage industry.

The Rising Tide of Bottled Water

In the wake of the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi that played out during the 1970s and '80s, diversification hit the beverage industry in the 1990s, with the biggest jolt being supplied by the rise of bottled water.

In 1975, the average American drank a grand total of one gallon of bottled water per year, and most of that was drunk at work via the water cooler. In fact, when water in plastic bottles first hit the shelves 50 years ago it was treated as something of a joke. After all, why would anyone buy a bottle of water when you can get all the water you could ever want at home by turning on the tap?

Fast forward to today when the average American drinks 26 gallons of bottled water per year without giving it much of a thought. So what happened?

How Did Bottled Water Become a Thing?

The meteoric rise of bottled water as we know it today can be traced to efforts during the mid-1970s to sell Perrier to the American public. Perrier had been around for nearly 100 years but was little more than a curiosity in 1977. That’s when the French company hired a former Levis Strauss executive named Bruce Nevins to bolster the brand’s image in the US. He devised a marketing campaign that spoke to the emerging baby boomer generation’s desire for status by emphasizing Perrier’s French provenance and its premium price.

Consumers fell for it and quickly began getting used to buying bottled water on a regular basis. Competitors to Perrier flooded the market and it wasn’t long before mineral water and other types of soda water began to take shelf space from soda at the supermarket.

From there it was a small step to introduce non-carbonated “spring” water and then simply bottled water. So the marketing chain went (roughly) from selling bottled water as an exclusive beverage, then a normal beverage and then as a commodity everyone needed. Even if they didn’t necessarily need it since most tap water was still fine for drinking.

The Larger Trend Toward Social Responsibility

Bottled water aside there are other trends that have shaken the beverage industry over the past 30 years and contributed to its diversification.

Marketing is a powerful thing and a talented marketer can sell just about anyone just about anything, even a bottle of water they may not necessarily need. The marketer weaves his or her magic not necessarily by identifying what someone needs, but by identifying what they want.

That might mean they want something healthy. Or it may mean that they want to be in on a hot trend. Or, in the case of many young people today, that they want to purchase products they think will have the least negative impact on both themselves and the environment.

Market studies indicate that nearly 50% of today’s under-30 crowd will go out of their way to patronize a company they believe is environmentally and socially responsible. (Ironically, most drink bottled water even though it’s hard to make a case that dumping billions of plastic water bottles into the ocean every year is environmentally responsible.)

Nonetheless, there are companies that take a more responsible approach to producing and marketing soft drinks. For instance, all nine of our sparkling CBD beverages are vegan, gluten-free, sodium-free, GMO-free and free of the preservatives you’ll find in some old school beverages. This is the kind of product young people want. And it’s companies like Colorado’s Best Drinks and our CBD Sparkling Soda that are at the vanguard of the diversification of the beverage industry, right alongside water.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With bottled water now accepted as a necessary commodity by most of the earth’s inhabitants, and young people in developed countries wanting to support more environmentally and socially responsible companies, where does that leave the beverage industry? Where do we and our Sparkling CBD soda flavors go from here?

Putting the Internet to Work

At the top of the page, we mentioned that the internet and smartphones represent the biggest change that's occurred in the past 30 years. Well, the rise of the digitally interconnected world has had an impact on the beverage industry as well.

Coca Cola, for instance, has more than 110 million likes on its Facebook page and nearly three million Instagram followers. The company invests heavily in sidling up to “World Kindness Day” and other social media-driven events that appeal to younger consumers. And it’s this kind of non-traditional marketing that is likely to lead the way for beverage companies going forward.

Give Sparkling CBD Drinks a Try!

The only constant in life is change and no one, not even beverage companies are immune. The forward-leaning beverage manufacturer will listen to what today’s more environmentally and socially engaged consumers are trying to tell them and act accordingly. If you’re in search of a better brand of soft drink, try our Sparkling CBD Soda today.