canned drinks on shelf, modern beverage development concept

7 Essential Steps in Beverage Development

When it comes to launching a successful beverage company the journey begins with beverage development.  Whether you’re a passionate entrepreneur with a groundbreaking idea or an established company seeking flavor innovation, the process of bringing a new beverage to market is both thrilling and challenging. 

Looking for more beverage development tips and insights? Then make sure you…

Join the Beverage Innovation Email List!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Beverage development techniques that work

If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely asking one very important question: How can my product be as successful as possible?  The answer is neither quick nor easy; however, focusing on clear processes, strong partnerships, and steady proactivity can greatly improve your odds.  Our applications team has guided hundreds of beverage brands through the product launch process.  We infused decades of category knowledge and beverage formulation expertise into these 7 Essential Steps in Beverage Development. This guide is designed to help new beverage brands achieve ROI faster and scale quicker – all with an eye towards long-term success.

woman drinking plant milk, plant based beverage development
Thirsty for beverage industry success? Refresh yourself with this helpful beverage development guide!

Step #1: Define the concept

Creating a great product begins with a clear vision.  Just like a seed needs the right soil, sunlight, and weather conditions to grow, your beverage concept requires a well-defined product profile, consumer need, marketing strategy, business plan, and an understanding of how it will be manufactured.  Consider the manufacturing process carefully—whether it will be hot-filled, cold-filled, aseptic, tunnel pasteurized, carbonated, or any other method.  Co-packers may have limited capacity for specific processing or package types, which can be an obstacle for new products.  Additionally, it’s crucial to think about distribution as it plays a key role in revenue growth and capital requirements.  These aspects are vital to establishing the project’s scope and saving valuable time and resources during the creative development process.  Having a defined concept helps you stay on track as you compare new directions to your original vision.

different types of beverages, coke, beer, wine, champagne, water, juice, milk
No matter the beverage category, defining a clear concept can help you get (and stay) on track.

Step #2: Provide value with functional ingredients

In today’s competitive beverage landscape successful products often go beyond traditional offerings by incorporating functional ingredients.  Consider the inclusion of functional elements such as probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics which can add an extra layer of value to your beverage.  These ingredients not only cater to taste but also address specific health and wellness needs such as gut health and immune support.  By simultaneously offering solutions to multiple consumer problems your beverage is more likely to stand out and gain popularity, provided it tastes exceptional and meets consumer expectations.

Step #3: Build a strong team

Iconic beverages are born from innovation and collaboration.  To bring your new beverage to market swiftly, assemble a skilled team of beverage engineers, flavorists, package designers, market analysts, sales directors, quality specialists, logistics coordinators, regulatory advisors, and production managers.  A strong team ensures that every aspect of your go-to-market strategy is covered by subject matter experts, leading to a higher success rate.

two people at the pool sharing a toast with tropical flavored beverages
Beverage development is not a solo sport; it takes a large community of subject matter experts to bring a beverage to market.

Step #4: Engage your consumer

Innovation thrives on consumer interaction and feedback. Conduct “boots on the ground” fieldwork with consumer insights to understand how your target audience interacts with your beverage.  Are they mixing it with water or other ingredients?  What occasions are they most likely to consume it in?  Is the package, branding, and serving size optimized for these occasions?  Gathering consumer insights and conducting sensory testing before launching your product ensures it’s on the right track and helps refine the concept before it hits the market.  Online product reviews of the finished beverage should be your third, fourth, or fifth interaction with your target consumer – but definitely not your first.

woman drinking healthy beverage, functional beverage development
Not sure what your consumers want in a new product? Online surveys and social listening are simple and fast ways to find out.

Step #5: Optimize the product

Beverage development is an iterative process.  Regularly check consumer feedback, sales reports, and market trends for opportunities to refine your beverage.  While most first-time developers may not achieve a “Gold Standard” at launch, revisiting and revising the formula is essential for long-term success.  Just be careful not to lose sight of the main idea in the process.  This is where the first step of defining the concept proves invaluable.  Listen to our Senior Beverage Engineer Kelly Chavarrio describe ways to improve overall acceptability in a low sugar beverage in her Taste Radio interview.

Step #6: Secure your supply chain

A reliable supply chain is essential.  Rather than committing to long-term contracts, consider establishing flexible agreements with key ingredient and packaging suppliers.  New beverage products often evolve and it’s crucial to have the flexibility to reformulate or make changes without incurring excessive supply chain risk.  Maintain open communication with suppliers to adapt to changing circumstances as your product develops.

beverage packaging innovation, bottled drinks in a production facility
From raw materials to packaging, supply chain issues can and will happen; anticipate them and you’ll be better equipped to handle the disruption.

Step #7: Develop the brand

Branding is an exciting part of beverage development and should naturally follow the course set by the original concept.  Remember that every brand requires routine maintenance.  Depending on the evolution of the product category and the target consumer, some brands will need more frequent check-ups than others.  Engage consumers and allow their feedback to inform updates to the messaging and branding. At the same time, be careful not to lose sight of your brand’s original mission and voice during the process.

orange soda, soft drink innovation, soda flavors
A clear, relatable, and consistent story along with strong values are key to developing iconic beverage brands.

Get ready for beverage development success!

We hope our 7 Essential Steps in Beverage Development help you focus on the key aspects of building a successful beverage product.  Designing a new beverage is an exciting journey filled with innovation and creativity.  Having a product development plan supported by a community of beverage industry experts can reduce your risk (and increase your fun!). Beverages are meant to be enjoyed, so shouldn’t the development process be just as rewarding?

Beverage development services

In addition to natural and organic beverage flavors, we offer contract beverage development services. The Blue Pacific Flavors team is ready to assist with any beverage challenge, including:

  • low sugar juices
  • flavored coffee
  • RTD cocktails
  • nonalcoholic beer, wine, and spirits
  • plant-based beverages
  • energy drinks
  • and more! 

If you’re facing a beverage development challenge, we have an expert who can help. Talk to an expert on the Blue Pacific Beverage Development team today!

From bench-top to production scale-up, we bring new beverages to life. 

Sign Up

Try this refreshing juniper and citrus gin flavor in your next nonalcoholic beverage application.  It makes a great alcohol-free Gin & Tonic, Gimlet, or Tom Collins!

Request A Sample

With warm notes of agave, hardwood, and wildflower honey, our natural tequila flavor can be used in applications where gold or reposado tequila is required.  It’s the perfect flavor for a nonalcoholic Margarita, Paloma, Tequila Sunrise, or Mexican Mule.

Request A Sample

With notes of rich caramel, dried fruit, and brown spice, our natural spiced rum flavor captures the best of Barbados.  The perfect choice for creating a nonalcoholic Mai Tai, Daquiri, Hurricane, or Mojito – or managing the freeze point for Rum Raisin ice cream.

Request A Sample

Our natural vermouth flavor is bursting with layered cherry and wine flavor.  Pair it with our natural Bourbon flavor to craft the ultimate nonalcoholic Manhattan cocktail, or our natural gin flavor to make an alcohol-free Negroni.

Request A Sample

Our natural rosé flavor helps consumers drink pink, without the alcohol!  With notes of ripe strawberry and wine, it’s a sophisticated choice for the best beverage, confectionary, frozen dessert, and sweet sauce applications.

Request A Sample

Dry and crisp with just the right balance of fruit and toast, our natural champagne flavor adds sparkle to a variety of applications.  Try it in everything from nonalcoholic Mimosas to gummy candies and sweet tea – even cakes and ice cream!

Request A Sample

Bold and smoky with notes of molasses and vanilla, our natural bourbon whiskey flavor takes you deep into the mountains of Tennessee.  Don’t make a nonalcoholic Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or Mint Julep without it!

Request A Sample

With just the right balance of caramel malt and hop notes, our natural beer flavor captures the essence of the classic pale ale.  Whether used in a nonalcoholic beverage or specialty cheese dip, beer flavor is sure to deliver!

Request A Sample