Functional Beverage Trend Highlighted by Latest PepsiCo Launches

With the launch of several new health-focused products, PepsiCo appears to be pivoting from just soda and capitalizing on the burgeoning functional beverage trend.

The company has developed an innovation process that allows it to respond rapidly to changing consumer preferences. As consumers continue to try out healthier lifestyles, beverages with functional ingredients have been popular with consumers in recent years.

“Interest in functional upgrades to routinely consumed beverages corresponds with consumer desire to make healthy living easier, as we find consumers increasingly embracing proactive wellness lifestyles,” said Melissa Abbott, VP, Hartman Retainer Services at The Hartman Group in a recent interview with The Food Institute.

Here’s a closer look into Pepsi’s latest product launches and how they could fare with consumers:


PepsiCo’s latest launch is Soulboost, a sparkling water beverage with functional ingredients. The product comes in two varieties: Lift, which is designed to support mental stamina, and Ease, designed to support relaxation.

“With consumers today increasingly looking for convenient ways to support mental stamina and relaxation in their daily routines or find alternatives to alcoholic beverages—and the pandemic having increased people’s overall interest in wellness products—we knew it was time to introduce a game-changing product,” said Emily Silver, VP, innovation and capabilities at PepsiCo Beverages North America, in a press release.

Soulboost follows Pepsi’s 2020 launch of Driftwell, which is supposed to aid sleep. The enhanced water drink contains 200 miligrams of L-theanine, an amino acid that’s found in green and black teas.


The functional beverage market was already experiencing substantial growth prior to the pandemic, as consumers sought benefits that reflected a long-term shift toward holistic wellness, according to Abbott. The launch of Soulboost further establishes Pepsi in the enhanced water market, which is expected to reach $11.3 billion by 2027, according to Grandview Research.

There are several motivations for using functional foods and beverages, with targeting benefits particularly important for younger consumers, according to 2020 research from Hartman Group. Top motivations include general insurance, looking for specific benefit/result (improved digestion, energy, sleep, etc.), and preventing possible disease or illness.

“We are finding that consumers are less compelled by traditional fortification as interest in botanicals and real food ingredients with inherent benefits,” noted Abbott. “As a long-term opportunity, we can expect consumers to continue to seek functional beverages that speak to a variety of dayparts and benefit areas related to mood and energy management.”