Demographic niches to drive flavor futures
demographically targeted products with the launch of its Flavor
Through surveys and tests, the company said it can define which flavors are preferred by specific demographics in order to provide insight and assistance to companies developing innovative flavors. Aiming products at niche markets is increasingly important to manufacturers and market growth, according to Agilex. "In the future it will be more important to have demographic-based launches as there is already an oversupply of broad based consumer brands," Bonnie Vicari, vice president of Marketing for Agilex flavor division, told FoodNavigator-USA. Agilex will initially focus on beverages, with its first target being the energy drink market. It will then launch its tea flavor focus in Q4 of 2008, and flavored water focus next year. Determining flavor preferences In researching energy drinks, Agilex's process began with a consumer insight survey. The company determined 642 energy drinkers, who consumed an energy drink at least once a week. Then it used a statistical t-test to see which flavors were preferred by Latinos, for example, compared to African-Americans, Caucasians and Asians. The flavors could then be created back in the laboratories. To help manufacturers use the research, Agilex has created flavor kits specific to each demographic. It also offers online presentations of the data to share with energy drink producers. Tom Damiano, president of Agilex flavors, said: "We have done the leg work and lab work to find out what flavors are preferred for groups we've targeted based on ethnicity, gender and age. And with our Flavor Focus Collections, we are set to share that wealth of knowledge and scientific expertise with our customers." Niche trends in beverages Recent analysis of the American beverages market has seen a trend emerging for niche products. According to Rabobank's beverage, food and agribusiness research and advisory division, fragmentation in consumers' needs and preferences has resulted in increased popularity for niche beverages. Rabobank analyst Stephen Rannekliev said the sale of flagship products has stagnated forcing beverage companies to broaden their portfolios. For example, he said Budweiser and Coca Cola have "virtually doubled" the number of products they provide between 1997 and 2007. According to Agilex, the energy drinks market needs to widen its appeal to different demographics. Vicari said: "By understanding their specific preference, the entire market pie can grow rather than manufacturers trying to take a bigger piece of the existing pie." Damiano added: "We can help our customers solidify their base of loyal customers, then capture a whole new segment of the market by adding flavors that will attract other demographic groups to their energy drink and, eventually, other products."