Widgets Magazine

By Nielsen

Soft drink, soda, pop, fizzy drink, tonic—what you call it depends on where you live, but whatever you’re drinking, this bubbly beverage has long been a staple at many American tables. But while rarely a commercial break passes without an ad for one brand or another, we’re spending less on soda overall.

Over the last four years, total U.S. dollars spent on these carbonated beverages declined by 1%, costing the industry over $1 billion in sales. Much of this appears to be driven by a steep decline in diet soda sales, which dropped nearly 5% in the same period. On the other side, regular soda sales initially declined but have grown in the past two years.

This switch may be tied to recent trends toward all-natural ingredients. Consumers are going back to basics, and looking for foods that are fresh, natural and minimally processed. In Nielsen’s Global Health and Wellness Survey last year, 29% of U.S. respondents rated “all natural” as very important, and about 40% said that the absence of artificial colors and flavors is very important.

But just because we’re not reaching for soda as often doesn’t mean we’re off the fizzy stuff all together. Sparkling water sales have skyrocketed in the U.S., growing more than 15% in four years. Current health and wellness trends might be to blame for bursting soda’s bubble. In North America, sales of healthy categories like water, fruit and yogurt grew 7% over the past two years, while sales of indulgent categories like carbonated soft drinks, chips and chocolate fell 8%.

In addition to the health benefits consumers crave, what’s not included plays a major role in purchase decisions. Roughly one-third of U.S. respondents, say it’s very important that foods are low in sugar (27%) and fat (25%), and about one-quarter believe the absence of high fructose corn syrup (33%) and caffeine (16%) is very important.

But don’t worry about your favorite sodas disappearing, sales for this fizzy drink won’t fizzle out anytime soon. With more than $26 billion in sales last year, soda’s popularity is still unbelieveabubble.