The explosion in functional beverages and increased demand for no and low alcohol products signals that the market is hungry for more health-conscious ways to drink in nearly every situation. A new category, "euphoric beverages," claims to deliver an altered state of consciousness without adverse side effects. But what exactly are euphorics, and will they catch on?
If you Google "euphoric beverages," you'll likely come across Kin Euphorics, the brand that is leading the charge in defining this new category of beverages. The definition of euphoria is a feeling of well-being or elation. Kin defines euphorics as "a new category of nonalcoholic nightlife beverage crafted for conscious connection." But what does that mean?
Kin combines nootropics, adaptogens, and botanicals to create synergistic pairings designed to deliver a specific effect. While the ingredient categories are often used interchangeably, each has its own definition.
Botanicals are plants, herbs, and spices valued for their medicinal or therapeutic properties. Examples include Açai Berry, Chamomile, green tea, and elderberry.
Adaptogens are non-toxic herbs that help the body adapt to stress and restore normal physiological functioning. Examples include ashwagandha, turmeric, Rhodiola Rosea, and ginseng.
Nootropics are compounds that enhance an aspect of human cognition and are positioned as a safe way to improve brain functions such as focus, memory, or mood. They can be botanical or non-botanical. Examples are caffeine, L-theanine, Noopept, and piracetam.
As these ingredients become more well-known and commonly used, more brands are combining them to create synergistic blends that provide more rounded effect profiles. One common example is blending caffeine and L-theanine, a calming amino acid, to improve attention and alertness while reducing caffeine's adverse side effects, like anxiety.
Kin uses the same concept, packaging and marketing their products based on the supposed benefits of the blends. High Rhode is positioned as a happy hour beverage that provides a "joyful boost" with a "soothing calm." Kin's Dream Light boasts the benefits of "serene relaxation" and "less stress."
While "euphorics" is a relatively new term, Thomas Hartman, Vice President of Operations at BevSource, says the idea of stacking ingredients is not novel.
"We've known for a long time that we can combine certain ingredients to make you feel a particular way," says Hartman. "What's evolving is our concept of what it means to be healthy and the quest for physical and cognitive benefits from beverages."
Euphoric beverages carry the promise of a better-for-you cocktail hour, but are people ready to sub out alcohol for a more healthful buzz?
Timing the Trends
More people are aware of the negative effects alcohol can have on the body and are consciously reducing or eliminating their consumption of alcoholic beverages. A large percentage of those people are seeking out alternatives. According to research by YPulse, 30 percent of 21-36-year-olds said they had replaced alcohol with something else, with Marijuana and CBD the top replacement.
According to Hartman, euphoric beverages fit into the natural evolution of the alcohol market.
"Customers are always looking for more interesting products," says Hartman, "Brands are constantly leveraging trends to create more innovative products."
Investors seem to agree. According to an article in Inc. Magazine, Kin received $5 million in funding from venture capital firms in May of 2019.
The Future of Euphorics
Hartman says he wouldn't be surprised if Kin was eventually bought out by a prominent player in the alcoholic beverage market. He expects competition in euphorics, but he also knows the challenges of starting a beverage that relies on unconventional ingredients.
"Sourcing these types of raw materials can be challenging, says Hartman. "Many of them come from other countries with different quality standards. You need to know your suppliers and how the ingredients are being processed."
Another challenge is blending the ingredients and making sure they're soluble and stable. Dani Stanley is an Application Scientist at BevSource who helps innovative brands figure out how to bring functional elements into their formulations.
"A lot of these ingredients come in many different forms that may require extra attention when combining and dissolving into a liquid formula,” says Stanley.
She also notes that ingredients like nootropics and adaptogens can be expensive and that many carry flavors that are difficult to mask.
Despite the challenges, it's easy to see the appeal of creating a brand that gives consumers a new drinking experience sans alcohol.
"We’ve seen a lot of venues, like bars and clubs, trying to create a different vibe or state-of-mind for customers," says Hartman. "Euphoric beverages have the potential to bring a unique experience to people wherever they are. That is an exciting opportunity."