Color concepts for beverages: Appealing to both the eyes and the taste buds

Two drinks

Color and style advice has long been standard for the right clothing, cosmetics and even for hotels, apartments and gardens. It is relatively less recognized that forward-looking beverage concepts should also adopt an appropriate color palette.

First impressions matter

When it comes to their beverages, consumers now increasingly value a harmonious color scheme. At the same time, they are becoming more open to unusual creations. In essence, the increasing desire for coherent color trends can be simply explained by the fact that, at the point of sale, every beverage communicates with the consumer first and foremost through its packaging and look. According to the GNT Group, 75 percent of a product’s first impression can be traced back to its color scheme.

Different colors evoke different associations

When it comes to the development of color concepts, a look at color psychology can help. For instance, the color red represents high energy and has a very positive strengthening effect on an emotional level. In addition, red symbolizes a strong will, determination and persistence. In China, red is the color of luck and wealth; in Russia, it underscores the value and expense of an item. And in Japan, the color red is associated with women. In other words, different markets, different color concepts.

Green, on the other hand, holds an entirely different meaning. Green is commonly considered the color of life, of plants and of springtime. It has a calming and harmonizing effect. In terms of food, colors translate into flavor perceptions: While the color red, from the consumer’s point of view, makes a product seem sweeter, green conveys the feeling that this item is more sour.

Naturalness wins with consumers

When creating color concepts, it is essential to study target groups in great detail. The goal should be to define color nuances that are as tailored as possible to target groups – always with the assumption that the color concept that is precisely coordinated with the relevant beverage can be a success factor. It can tip the balance when the customer actually stands before the product in the store.

Even if the color is a winner with the target group, there is still more that beverage producers should keep in mind. It is very important to consider the factor of naturalness. According to a study by the GNT Group, more than half of consumers prefer natural colors in beverages.

Natural color concepts are offered by the company GNT, for instance, in their EXBERRY® product line of natural food colors, which ranges across more than 400 different hues. Other manufacturers of coloring foodstuffs include Wild Flavors & Specialty Ingredients (WFSI) and Döhler. WFSI recently created new colors based on pumpkin and carrots containing lycopene for hues in yellow, orange and green.

Are natural colors soon the future of beverages?

Industry experts agree that the use of coloring foodstuffs for beverage production will continue to expand in the future. More and more beverage companies see the benefits. According to the GNT Group, in 2016, 14 percent of newly launched beverages were given a “color finish” to match their overall concept. And the “natural coloring” of beverages could soon become a standard practice. But what’s often true in other cases also applies here: Those who are among the first and can take the competitive edge wind up benefitting.

drinktec is also relying on the power of colors, featuring orange in its visual display to represent vital energy and activity. The warmth of orange is said to lift spirits and represent joy, sociability, security and comfort. Visitors to drinktec will experience this full spectrum during their time here. It is also fitting that visitors this year will get to sample Orange Spirit, the beer brewed by drinktec – now with a new recipe. Visitors interested in promising color concepts for a wide range of beverages will find just what they are looking for in the segments for raw ingredients, food additives and treatment methods in halls B1 and B2. This is also the location of special “New Beverage Concepts“ area.

Friederike Arndt

As a freelance trade journalist, Friederike Arndt is regarded as an expert in the area of beverages. She spent a long time writing for, inter alia, the trade magazines Getränkeindustrie (beverage industry) and Getränkefachgroßhandel (beverage wholesale trade). On the blog, she reports on the latest trends and innovations in the field of non-alcoholic beverages.