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Perception, acceptability and decision-making determinants of Soft Seltzer, a novel winegrape non-alcoholic carbonated beverage category to health-conscious College students in California

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The beverage industry is a significant market that is seeing a growth albeit certain types of beverages such as wine and soda-type drinks are seemingly declining. There is certainly seen a growing interest for novel beverages, especially when creating healthy options aiming to support health via enhanced functional food/beverage properties. Furthermore, understanding how the public perceives and makes purchasing decisions towards novel and unconventional options is of key importance. The Soft Seltzer category is an emerging category defined as a sparkling water- based low calorie, no added sugar, no artificial sweetener, non-alcoholic, carbonated beverage. In our pilot study herein, we aimed to assess interest and willingness to pay for such a product produced in Sonoma, California, specifically H2O/H2♡, a dealcoholized wine-type beverage enriched with vitamins, potassium, and calcium, using a perception and acceptability study to health-conscious college students in California. Respectivelly, healthy college students were provided an on-line acceptability questionnaire with 38 questions to evaluate the concept of the H2O beverage. Our participants indicated that they would be significantly interested in purchasing such a beverage, while as for willingness to pay, a price for $9.99/4x16oz cans was deemed less than or about what is expected from a majority of participants. Our results taken together demonstrate that there is substantial interest and traction for such a beverage, especially given its natural origin and potential health benefits. Further research including tasting and health-related functional properties for the beverage in discussion is suggested. Additionally, lifestyle aspects and nuances beyond alcohol that are important to wine drinkers and other consumers could be delivered by novel beverages, hence aid in their success in the beverage market.
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© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020 33
(33–54)
Perception, acceptability and decision-making
determinants of Soft Seltzer, a novel winegrape
non-alcoholic carbonated beverage category
to health-conscious College students in California
Angelos K. Sikalidis*
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo,
CA 93407, USA
asikalid@calpoly.edu
ORCID: 0000-0003-3487-4120
Aleksandra S. Kristo
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo,
CA 93407, USA
ORCID: 0000-0002-0733-4041
Anita H. Kelleher
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo,
CA 93407, USA
Adeline Maykish
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo,
CA 93407, USA
Received: 15 September 2020/ Revised: 2 December 2020/ Accepted: 9 December 2020/ Published online:
18 December 2020
ABSTRACT
The beverage industry is a signifi cant market that is seeing a growth albeit certain types of
beverages such as wine and soda-type drinks are seemingly declining. There is certainly seen
a growing interest for novel beverages, especially when creating healthy options aiming to support
health via enhanced functional food/beverage properties. Furthermore, understanding how the
public perceives and makes purchasing decisions towards novel and unconventional options is of
key importance. The Soft Seltzer category is an emerging category defi ned as a sparkling water-
based low calorie, no added sugar, no artifi cial sweetener, non-alcoholic, carbonated beverage.
In our pilot study herein, we aimed to assess interest and willingness to pay for such a product
produced in Sonoma, California, specifi cally H2O/H2, a dealcoholized wine-type beverage
enriched with vitamins, potassium, and calcium, using a perception and acceptability study to
health-conscious college students in California. Respectivelly, healthy college students were
provided an on-line acceptability questionnaire with 38 questions to evaluate the concept of the
H2O beverage. Our participants indicated that they would be signifi cantly interested in purchasing
such a beverage, while as for willingness to pay, a price for $9.99/4x16oz cans was deemed
* Correspondence: Prof. Angelos K. Sikalidis, California Polytechnic State University, 1 Grand Avenue, Bldg: 11, Rm: 241, San Luis Obispo,
CA 93407, USA. E-mail: asikalid@calpoly.edu, Tel: +1-805-756-6496, Fax: +1-805-756-1146.
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
34
(33–54)
less than or about what is expected from a majority of participants. Our results taken together
demonstrate that there is substantial interest and traction for such a beverage, especially given its
natural origin and potential health benefi ts. Further research including tasting and health-related
functional properties for the beverage in discussion is suggested. Additionally, lifestyle aspects
and nuances beyond alcohol that are important to wine drinkers and other consumers could be
delivered by novel beverages, hence aid in their success in the beverage market.
JEL classi cation: L1, M3, O3, Z1.
Keywords: Consumption, Purchase decision making, Soft Seltzer, Sparkling Water, Wine Grape
Infused, Fruit-Flavored Functional Beverage, California Wine Grapes
1. INTRODUCTION
The beverage industry is a signifi cant market within the food industry which has seen
interesting trends in the recent years. More specifi cally, while the industry seems to be growing
overall, the alcoholic portion, as well as the soft drink portion of the industry, both appear to be
declining. These observations strengthen the notion that the modern consumers have diff erent
requirements and expectations from the beverages available on the market. It is therefore
important to understand how the public perceives and makes purchasing decisions towards such
options.
Furthermore, average calorie intake for Americans over the age of two increased by
150– 300 kcal/day, depending on age and sex, between 1970–2000, and it has been estimated
that as much as 50% of this intake could be due to the consumption of calorie-dense beverages
(Popkin et al., 2006; de Ruyter et al., 2012; Jin et al., 2012; Papandreou et al., 2012; Welsh et al.,
2011; JN et al., 2005; Durão et al, 2015; Mirmiran et al, 2014). In this regard, there is signifi cant
concern as per the consumption of energy-dense, often simultaneously no- or low-nutrient,
beverages that may be contributors to obesity and subsequently related metabolic diseases mainly
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer (de Ruyter et al.,
2012; Jin et al., 2012; Papandreou et al., 2012; Welsh et al., 2011; JN et al., 2005; Durão et al,
2015; Mirmiran et al, 2014; Vilela et al., 2014; Yari et al., 2020; Chandran et al., 2014; Sikalidis
et al., 2013).
In the US, from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010 the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages
(SSBs) declined in both youth and adult population (by 68 and 45 kcal/day respectively) (Rehm et
al., 2016, Kit et al., 2013). Diet beverages or beverages containing low calorie sweeteners (LCS),
i.e. sweeteners of high intensity approved or not objected by the US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), thus few to no calories, have emerged as a preferred alternative for consumers in the light
of robust and abundant evidence linking SSBs to weight gain and other adverse health eff ects
(Johnson et al., 2018). However, replacing SSBs with LCS beverages is controversial due to
potential safety concerns such as increased risk of certain cancers with prolonged and heavy
consumption of artifi cial sweeteners (Mishra et al., 2015), and inconclusive evidence on health
eff ects related to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Pereira et al., 2013).
In 2018, alcohol consumption fell by 1.5% on a global scale, according to the International
Wine Spirits Record (IWSR, 2019). Consumers are apparently engaging in reduced-alcohol
choices, a behavior that encourages the development of drinks, targeting both abstemious and
consumers aiming to reduce their overall alcohol intake. Hence, this beverage category has
evolved beyond soft drinks or orange juice as an alternative for these consumers during social
occasions (IWSR, 2019; Colbert, 2019). According to a recent report by Klynveld Peat Marwick
Goerdeler International Cooperative (KPMG), a global network providing fi nancial services
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
35
(33–54)
(Colbert, 2019) as well as mounting evidence (Pharis et al., 2018; Hua et al., 2017; Jones et al.,
2019), modern consumers place an increasingly signifi cant focus on health and wellness, thus are
willing to try new and healthier alternatives to traditional soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
Sparkling water-based beverages constitute a good alternative that when enhanced with
bioactive compounds can meet these requirements. Therefore, healthy drinks such as “plant-
based” waters seem to be gaining popularity, as opposed to SSBs (Colbert, 2019; Pharis et
al., 2018; Hua et al., 2017). According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
(NHANES) data from 1999 through 2014, consumption of SSBs and LCS beverages in US
adults (20+years) as well as children and adolescents (2-19 years) has been decreasing. Similar
decreasing trends were observed for SSBs in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, with a daily soda
consumption in high-school students decreasing from 2007 through 2015 (33.8% to 20.4%)
(Johnson et al., 2018).
In Canada, a comparison between 2004 and 2015, indicated that the reported volumes of
beverages consumed decreased by 10%, with energy intake from beverages decreasing by 24%.
More specifi cally, signifi cant decreases were noted for 100% juice, plain milk, SSBs, diet or low-
calorie beverages, and other unsweetened beverages, along with a 10% increase of the volume of
plain water consumed, after adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics. Intake of alcoholic,
diet or light beverages did not change signifi cantly over time (Jones et al., 2019). Interestingly, the
increase in water consumption is in line with national recommendations as Canada’s Food Guide
recommends water as the best choice for hydration (Government of Canada, 2020).
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide limited recommendations for beverages except
for milk, 100% fruit juice, and alcohol (Food and Nutrition, 2020). It is proposed that guidance
on beverage consumption could aid in the development of better consumer products such as
beverages lower in sugar, and dense in nutrients and phytonutrients. Furthermore, appropriate
beverage choices based on guidance, could address existing nutrient gaps (including lower than
recommended intakes of calcium in women, potassium, vitamins A, C and D from diet alone),
improve intake of phytonutrients with documented health benefi ts, and reduce risk for chronic
disease (Ferruzzi et al., 2020).
Innovative beverage products that fulfi l health and wellness support, premiumization,
convenience and sustainability seem to be addressing the primary modern customer desires
(Sikalidis, 2019). Therefore, design and development of beverages that support wellbeing, are
non-alcoholic and low-calorie without signifi cant artifi cial compound burden, may be particularly
attractive to the modern consumer. Such products can address the needs of individuals with
specifi c needs due to metabolic disease (i.e.: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension), age or life-
stage (i.e.: youth, pregnancy, lactation), exercising while employing a specifi c training regime
(athletes), adhering to religious practices (lent, fasting) or are in a process of rehabilitation and/
or alcohol abstinence. The modern approach for novel products in the beverage sector aims to
address consumers with strong statements/beliefs such as veganism, non-GMO, ecologically
and sustainability sensitive (Sikalidis, 2019). Moreover, health-conscious individuals who
do not necessarily belong to any of the aforementioned categories can also benefi t from such
products. In this context however, understanding the drivers of acceptability for novel beverages
especially when these represent a new beverage category, particularly when no prior information
or pre-conceived notion are available is rather challenging, yet of key importance for the optimal
introduction of innovation in a way that will respect and benefi t the consumer the most (Sikalidis,
2019; Silva et al., 2016).
In our study herein, we evaluated consumer predisposition and acceptability of a novel
sparkling water-based beverage the H2O (H2) Sonoma Soft Seltzer line, a sparkling beverage
infused with the juice of 100% California varietal wine grapes, premium California dealcoholized
wine, natural fl avor extracts, and pure water from an artesian well aquifer (supplement: Figure S1)
at a Sonoma Valley vineyard. Furthermore, we inquired about the main criteria driving consumer
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
36
(33–54)
purchasing decisions for beverages. The beverage in discussion is a novel concept product and the
Soft Seltzer category is actually defi ned by this product as there is nothing similar in the market
hence the novelty. We hypothesized that the beverage tested would be perceived positively due to
its signifi cant elements of innovation and potential for promoting healthy living and wellbeing in
accordance with sustainable practices.
For our assessment, we developed a questionnaire and delivered it blindly to young college
students previously enrolled in a Nutrition class, as this is a population that can constitute
a potentially health conscious demographic group interested in novel healthier beverages and/or
a demanding audience in accepting such type of products compared to the general population. We
additionally included a set of open-ended questions aiming to indicate the major criteria driving
the selection decision in the case of beverage purchases by the same population.
2. REVIEW OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR AND PURCHASING
2.1. Background
It is necessary to identify the ideal consumer market when generating a novel product,
especially considering the constant evolution of the market. The most typical approach in doing so
is a consumer survey to analyze preference, motives behind purchasing, and potential consumer
base and interest. A brief review examining consumer behavior in the food and beverage industry,
including major drivers for purchase and major determinants of consumer attitudes, will be
discussed herein.
2.2. Nutritional Knowledge and Purchasing Behavior
The International Food Information Council and American Heart Foundation state that 43%
of Americans claim to always be on the lookout for healthy options when grocery shopping,
whereas 52% stated to at least occasionally look for healthy foods (Buchholz, 2019), meaning
that almost all Americans sometimes look for healthy foods. Therefore, marketing towards this
desire is key to garner consumer interest. A comprehensive review by Wills et al. on the attitudes
and purchasing habits as infl uenced by health claims in European consumers indicated that,
consumer responses vary signifi cantly based on the nature of product, the mode of health claim,
and functional/active ingredient emphasized (Wills et al., 2012). However, there tends to be a gap
in the want for healthy foods and overall nutrition knowledge, and general knowledge can be
assumed to be greater than it truly is. In a study conducted in Switzerland, consumer knowledge
of a healthy diet was analyzed. 1,043 survey participants were asked 13 nutritional knowledge
true/false questions, as well as their typical dietary habits. The questions received between 3%
and 38% incorrect responses, illustrating that nutrition misconceptions are much greater than
anticipated. It was also found that individuals who consumed more vegetables scored higher, and
women, those younger in age, a higher education, nutrition related qualifi cations, and not being
on a diet all resulted in higher scores. Overall interest in nutrition resulted in a higher score, but
the error of perceived healthiness was still present, highlighting the need for increased nutritional
education for the general public (Dickson-Spillman et al., 2011). This is also of interest when
considering marketing, as health and nutrition claims tend to be highly valued when purchasing
food and beverages.
In a study conducted in Italy, 504 participants were asked about grocery buying habits,
including interest in nutrition and health claims, knowledge surrounding those claims, and general
product interest when shopping. Questions were provided online in a survey format. It was found
that 33% of participants stated that they were infl uenced in their choices by health reasons, and
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
37
(33–54)
33% pay attention to nutrition labels while shopping. Only 29% often considered health claims.
Overall, participants had a low knowledge of nutritional index. When referring to specifi c health
claims, it was found that many interviewees did not know the true meaning behind these claims.
It was therefore concluded that while there is interest in these health and nutrition claims, it is
necessary to present them to the consumer in a way that is easier to understand. This may also
result in increased interest, as it appeals to a wider consumer base (Annunziata et al., 2019).
Bechoff et al. (2014) assessed the relationship between anthocyanins and sensory acceptability
of various hibiscus drinks. Hibiscus drinks are popular due to their antioxidant activity, imparted
on the beverage by anthocyanin activity. Four drinks were provided to 160 total volunteers. Two
of the drinks were infusions and two were syrup based. Consumer preference was then measured
using a 9-point hedonic scale for appearance, taste, and overall acceptance. Physical and chemical
analysis was also performed to determine acidity, total soluble solids, phenolic content, and
anthocyanin levels. 43% of consumers preferred syrup, 36% preferred infusions, and 21% were
indiff erent. The syrup acceptance was closely related to sweet taste, whereas acceptability of the
infusion was closely related to anthocyanin level. Although the infusions displayed signifi cantly
higher levels of anthocyanin, infusion preference scores were lower. However, due to the reduced
calories in infusions, the body conscious consumer may prefer infusions regardless, due to
decreased caloric value and increased antioxidant potential (Bechoff et al., 2014).
Coff ee is typically chosen for its energy eff ects, but also holds numerous health benefi ts such
as decreased type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk (Kuriyama et al., 2006, Huxley et
al., 2009, Van Dam et al., 2006). However, consumer knowledge of these benefi ts is not well
known. Samoggia and Riedel analyzed consumer perception of coff ee’s health benefi ts and its
eff ect on consumption and purchasing motives. 250 participants were asked about coff ee drinking
and purchasing habits through a survey. It was found that only 25% of consumers were aware of
potential benefi ts, and those aware were typically male (31%), young (30.4%), and employed.
The typical consumer primarily drank coff ee for energetic eff ects. It was also found that 74% of
consumers were more likely to pay a price premium for coff ee with health benefi ts. Therefore, if
coff ee is marketed catering to these health eff ects, it may be benefi cial to the market, as there is
willingness from consumers to pay more (Samoggia & Riedel, 2019).
Functional foods, defi ned as food with some added physiologic benefi t to enable a consumer
to lead a healthier lifestyle without changing eating habits, tend to have mixed reception and
understanding. Bech-Larson et al. investigated consumer perception of functional foods in Danish,
Finnish, and American consumers. Background knowledge on processing, enrichment methods,
health claims, and types of food were analyzed to determine specifi cally what changes consumer
perception. 500 households/country were selected, and the individual responsible for buying
groceries was interviewed. 24 standard full profi le stimuli were generated, which were then rated
on a 7 point scale of perceived healthiness. It was found that Danish and Finnish consumers
responded more negatively towards genetically modifi ed foods, whereas Finnish consumers
responded more positively towards functional foods. Overall, there was little diff erence in regards
to determinants of the perception of healthiness of functional foods. There were also only minor
changes in reception from country to country, meaning cultural values are mildly associated. It
was found that the nutritional qualities of the base product were the most important for reception,
and it is therefore benefi cial to use a base product that is already perceived as healthy when trying
to market a functional food (Bech-Larson et al., 2003).
In a second study investigating functional foods, Sparke et al. aimed to analyze consumer
motivation to purchase or refuse functional foods. Surveys were conducted in Germany, Poland,
Spain, and the United Kingdom, and 590 total respondents participated. Cluster segmentation
resulted in 8 consumer segments of purchasing infl uence for functional orange juice. It was
found that fruit content was the most important (31%), followed by packaging and enrichment
with dietary ber (21% and 13%, respectively). Color was of least importance (6%). While the
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
38
(33–54)
emphasis on fruit content reestablishes the need for a highly regarded nutritional baseline product
(Bech-Larson et al., 2003), it illustrates that other factors, such as packaging, are of interest as
well (Sparke et al., 2009).
Consumer acceptance of functional foods was evaluated in China and Germany and compared
to one another to determine marketing needs by country. A group of 502 German consumers
and one of 443 Chinese consumers were asked about willingness to buy a functional food over
a regular one (ie. yogurt with the ability to decrease cardiovascular disease in comparison to
yogurt). It was found that German consumers were much less willing to purchase functional
foods, with willingness falling between 16.3% and 28.9%, depending on the question and product.
Chinese participants were up to 65% more likely to purchase a functional food. It was believed
that German participants did not trust that the food would be as tasty or would deliver in terms of
the advertised benefi ts. However, in both China and Germany it was stated that health motivations
were among the biggest infl uencers for acceptance. It is evident that altering marketing strategy
by country is vital, and the demand for healthier products tends to be apparent across countries
(Siegrist et al., 2015).
2.3. Factors Outside of Nutritional Knowledge
While nutrition tends to be a considerable factor in food purchasing, especially in America, it is
not the only driver. Several other factors, such as price, knowledge behind processing technology,
and packaging have been found to be equally as important for marketing a new product.
In a study investigating the drivers of acceptance of a new beverage in Europe, it was found that
packaging, product color, and price were among the most infl uential choice attributes. Silva et al.
investigated the acceptance of a traditional African beverage made from Bissap, highly regarded
for its health benefi ts and antioxidant properties. Three focus groups, each with 22 participants,
were asked to identify the fl avor and sensory profi le of beverages made from Bissap, and were
then asked about reasoning behind purchase. It was found that Bissap would be selected due to
health perception and novelty, and the ideal profi le would be €0.99/L, <18kcal/100mL, packaged
in tetra-pack, a light red color, and for the labeling information to include information about
antioxidants and Bissap. Price sensitive, body concerned, and packaging attracted clusters were
identifi ed as the most infl uential choice attributes, illustrating that while nutrition is present, there
are other factors as well (Silva et al., 2016).
Abadio Finco et al. evaluated consumer intention to purchase of pineapple juice, with an
interest in packaging and manufacturing processes. 96 consumers were informed on processing
techniques, and were then asked about fi ve purchasing attributes: 1) information on manufacturing
process, 2) product defi nition, 3) product information, 4) price, 5) brand name. It was found
that brand name and price had the highest relative importance. Information on processing was
determined to be an advantage to consumers as well. Therefore, it is evident that packaging and
brand trust must also be considered when developing a product (Abadio Finco et al., 2010).
Similarly, Jalloh et al. studied consumer perceptions and purchasing reasons behind packaged
water products in Sierra Leone to attempt to improve drinking water in the area. 25 focus groups
were established, with 178 total consumers participating. Overall, packaged water was perceived
as safe, accessible, and convenient, and more hygienic than alternative options. However, for
those living outside the city, cost was reported as a major barrier. Brand trust was also a key factor,
and personal feelings towards brands aff ected purchasing signifi cantly (Jalloh et al., 2018). This
again illustrates the importance of a respected brand. If a product is released under an untrusted
brand, it is less likely to do well, simply due to the lack of reliance.
Quester et al. investigated the interest in 10 hypothetical wine products and the reasoning
behind interest and willingness to purchase. Wine region, price, grape variety, and wine style were
ranked in terms of importance by 303 consumers. Wine region was not found to be a signifi cant
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
39
(33–54)
factor, whereas price was deemed to be the most important factor when purchasing. Grape variety
and wine style were also signifi cant factors. Therefore, it is essential to create a targeted approach
when marketing to attract consumers to a wine style at an optimal price (Quester et al., 1998).
It is evident that packaging is of interest for consumers, and it is likely that a well designed
package will garner consumer interest. However, one area of packaging that tends to be overlooked
is the environmental component. Birgelen et al. surveyed 176 German respondents to investigate
ecological considerations in consumers. This study focused specifi cally on beverage packaging.
It was found that among the 6 attributes surveyed (price, taste, healthiness, availability, ease of
carrying, design), only taste and price had to be fulfi lled before environmental packaging became
an issue. It was stated that there is a misconception behind environmental packaging, and a belief
that only a minority of consumers actively seek out environmentally friendly packaging. It is
apparent that this is not the case, as this packaging ranked high in terms of importance. While
good packaging is important, it is also necessary to know the market and cater to what is desired.
While these results are specifi c to Germany, similar surveys in the products respective country
may be of interest to determine demand (Birgelen et al., 2008).
Summary
Coclusively, it is evident that consumer acceptability and preference is multifactorial, and all
factors must be considered when marketing a novel product. For the food and beverage market,
nutritional claims and values are well regarded, especially in America, and should therefore be
of priority. Well designed packaging that eff ectively highlights the nutritional values is key, and
if the packaging allows, a background educating consumers on those claims may be benefi cial
as well. Lack of education regarding nutrition and misconceptions appears to be a large setback,
particularly in the functional foods sector. Brand trust is also essential, as consumers generate
images surrounding brands that can be diffi cult to alter. Finally, engaging in the market and
analyzing trends is vital, such as the case with environmentally friendly packaging. Due to ever
changing trends, consumer preference tests continue to be integral to identify groups of consumers
that can be marketed to the most eff ectively.
3. MATERIALS AND METHODS
3.1. Beverage assessed and related emerging markets
The beverage assessed is the H2O/H2 Sonoma Soft Seltzer, as shown in Image 1, a sparkling
water-based beverage that is infused with the juice of 100% California varietal wine grapes,
premium California dealcoholized wine, natural fl avor extracts, added electrolytes and vitamins,
using pure water from an artesian well aquifer located at a Sonoma Valley vineyard. This is
a non-alcoholic drink without artifi cial fl avors, no detectable sulfi tes, gluten-free, vegan-friendly,
without added sugars, artifi cial sweeteners, GMOs, and fat-free. A small amount of carbohydrate
is present due the natural sugars found in the wine grape juice used to infuse the beverage (Robert
Rex, 2020).
H2O is the fi rst of its kind in that no other Soft Seltzer on the market is non-alcoholic in wine
avor with natural avor extracts and dealcoholized wine. Contingent upon consumers' unique
determinants for purchase, comparable beverages may include: Sipp Eco Beverage and Co, Kin
Spritz chili and pomegranate juice or Proposition Co. zero proof nonalcoholic cocktails. Sipp
Eco similarly advertises itself as a soft seltzer made from green coff ee beans and agave nectar,
sold at $25 for a 12-pack. Similar to H2O, they advertise their product as “low in calories, made
exclusively with clean, organic ingredients, antioxidants and Vitamin C.” Next, Kin Spritz is
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
40
(33–54)
advertised as a sparkling citrus beverage which touts the benefi ts of creating a “lifted mind,
relaxed mind and kindred spirit,” priced at $27 for a 4-pack. Among the highlighted ingredients
are the adaptogen Rhodiola Rosea and nootropics including “GABA, Caff eine, 5-HTP, citicoline,
and tyrosine (which) support neurotransmitters in charge of mood, pleasure, and reward for
a boost of social stamina.” Finally, Proposition Co. zero proof nonalcoholic cocktails may appear
comparable to the consumer who is attracted to H2O for its wine taste but with zero alcoholic
content. At $34 for a 6-pack case, Proposition Co. makes 3 fl avors and emphasizes the beverages
are “better-for-you alternatives crafted with organically sourced blood oranges, ashwagandha,
bitter roots, mountain herms and all-natural botanical hemp extract”. H2O is a pioneer in the eld
of Soft Seltzers as overall purchase of alcoholic beverages and soda continues to collectively
decrease; No other beverage on the market appears to match in nutritional value and the high-
quality ingredient sourcing as the Sonoma Valley vineyards used by H2O (Image 1).
Image 1
Presentation of the “H2O/H2 Soft Seltzer” concept to the survey participants with 8 varietal fl avors (Pinot Noir;
Chardonnay; Zinfandel; Sauvignon Blanc; Cabernet Sauvignon; Moscato; Rosé; Merlot)
3.2. Participants, Questionnaire and Delivery
This was an observational study evaluating consumer predisposition and acceptance of a novel
product that included 184 participants in the age-range of 21-24 years old (classifi ed as generation
Z), all full-time enrolled College students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis
Obispo, California. The participants were all single, non-smokers, without underlying medical
conditions, no known allergies and not taking any medications and were deemed as generally
healthy young adult individuals. This student sample was also considered health-conscious (Kraft
et al., 1993), indicated by their interest in nutrition by opting for an elective general education
nutrition course.
Characteristics of participants are shown on Table 1. The questionnaire developed consisted
of 38 questions ranging from basic demographics, to purchasing habits, drivers for determining
purchasing behavior for beverages and specifi c questions pertinent to the beverage in assessment.
Questions were audited and selected based on standard Food Science and Nutrition acceptability
scales (Cardello A.V. & Jaeger S.R. 2010). Given that the assessment was on a unique product
with signifi cant novelty there was not an ideally comparable standard thus associate research
assistants utilized avored sparkling water as a standard of comparison and guidance. Those
who conducted the literature review reported facing challenges in ndings regarding trends and
comparisons to similar products, given the unusual nature of the product.
The questionnaire was developed to evaluate participants' unique determinants for purchase
as well as likelihood of purchasing the given product using a ve-point Likert scale. Questions
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
41
(33–54)
were both quantitative (including numerical scoring), as well as qualitative in nature, including
narrative response. An example of the quantitative questions asked is how frequently do you
consume sparkling water?’ Conversely, examples of the qualitative questions asked include ‘what
do you think of the displayed product above? and ‘how would you read the logo above?’ The
delivery of the questionnaire was on-line.
Table 1
Participant profi le characteristics
Participants Sex (n) (%)
Female 148 80.4
Male 36 19.6
Total 184 100
Age range (years) 21–24
Social Media Platform Use Preference Platform (n) (%)
Instagram 115 62.5
Snapchat 33 17.9
Twitter 17 9.3
TikTok 13 7.1
YouTube 4 2.2
Pinterest 1 0.5
Reddit 1 0.5
3.3. Analysis
Acceptability of foods and beverages is dependent on a multi-factorial array of determinants
with varying importance to diff erent consumers. As we were however primarily interested
in specifi c determinants well established, we expressed our data as average frequencies and
cumulative agggregates of positive ratings to illustrate consumer predisposition. This is an
approach utilized extensively and widely in food/beverage research. Other research groups have
used similar approaches in addition to conjoint analysis, in studying consumers’ preferences and
choice factors with numerous examples including pineapple juice (Abadio Finco et al., 2010),
functional foods (Bech-Larsen et al., 2003), organic foods (Mesías et al., 2011) and wines (Gil
et al., 1997; Quester et al., 1998).
Statistics
Outputs from the on-line questionnaire were compiled in an excel spreadsheet format. Data
processing was performed using SPSS version 23.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Categorical
data were expressed as frequencies and percentages.
Ethics
All participants provided their informed consent for inclusion to the study. The study was
conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, and the protocol was approved by the
California Polytechnic State University, Institutional Review Board committee (project protocol
identifi cation and approval number: 2020-138).
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
42
(33–54)
Limitations
Given the pilot/exploratory nature of the study, limitations were on-line delivery of the
questionnaire without a sensory panel and convenient mode of participant selection. Also the
study focused on a particular product which is category defi ning in the lack of a similar other one.
However, that makes at this point more diffi cult to generalize results, thus while results are valid
should be interpreted with caution.
4. RESULTS
With our study presented herein, we aimed to reveal perception attitudes and to identify
potential choice characteristics for a novel sparkling water-based beverage infused with wine
grape juice and California dealcoholized wine enriched with grape juice natural antioxidants,
vitamins B12 and C, as well as electrolytes calcium and potassium.
4.1. Consumer-participant pro le
Our participants were a group comprised of 184 college students of whom 148 were female
(80.5%) and 36 males (19.5%), while their age group was within the 21–24 years age range.
They are all non-smokers, with no known allergies or dietary restrictions, not on medication and
in good general health. All participants were computer literate and interested in Nutrition and
Health as they opted to enroll in an elective introductory Nutrition college-level course prior to
participating in the survey. In terms of social media use, the majority were using Instagram (115)
followed by Snapchat (33), Twitter (17), TikTok (13), YouTube (4) and Pinterest and Reddit
(1 each) (Table 1). Given the characteristics of generation Z and their relationship with technology
in terms of making choices and decisions, we wanted to have better insight into the on-line
platform preferences of our participants. Generation Z’s exposure to the internet, social networks,
and mobile devices, formed a context that shaped a hypercognitive generation very savvy with
collecting and cross-referencing various sources/types of information and with integrating virtual
and offl ine experiences.
4.2. Participant-consumer habits as per beverage purchasing and consumption
In terms of frequency of soda drink purchasing (including diet versions), over 50% of
participants (98/184) indicated on a 0-10 Likert scale (0: never – 10: every day), that they do
not buy those types of beverages (0-1 ratings). This response is indicative of the level of health
consciousness seen in our participants and possibly an indirect eff ect of their level of interest and
education in Nutrition. In this question, the average was 1.75/10 ± 0.11 (x
̄ ± SEM). Regarding
the frequency of sparkling water consumption, 20/184 participants responded that they consume
sparkling water almost every day (8-10 out of maximum 10-point frequency scale), while 58/184
participants responded that they consume sparkling water several times a week. In this question, the
average was 3.07/10 ± 0.22 (x
̄ ± SEM). In a similar question regarding hard-Seltzer consumption
frequency, the average was 2.72/10 ± 0.14 (x
̄ ± SEM). Out of all 184 participants, 68.3% prefer
sparkling water with fl avor as opposed to non-fl avored. When asking on the frequency of
beer/ wine consumption our participants’ average score was 3.10/10 ± 0.12 (x
̄ ± SEM), while in
the question regarding consumption frequency of non-alcoholic beer/wine the respective score
was even lower 1.10/10 ± 0.11 (x
̄ ± SEM) (Table 2).
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
43
(33–54)
Table 2
Consumption frequency of main beverage-type
Beverage type x
̄ ± SEM
Soda 1.75/10 ± 0.11
Sparkling water 3.07/10 ± 0.22
Hard-Seltzer 2.72/10 ± 0.14
Beer/wine (regular) 3.10/10 ± 0.12
Beer/wine (non-alcoholic) 1.10/10 ± 0.11
Participants responded on a 0–10 Likert scale (0: never – 10: every day).
Results reported as: mean of scoring values (x
̄) ± SEM.
From a wine grape preference perspective the top three choices for red were: Cabernet
Sauvignon (27.2% top choice), Pinot Noir (25.0% top choice) and Merlot 12.5% top choice),
while for white were: Chardonnay (43.5% top choice), Sauvignon Blanc (18.5% top choice) and
Pinot Grigio (16.3% top choice) respectively (Table 3).
Table 3
Participants order of preference for wine-grape varietals (red and white)
Type Order of varietal ranking (% chosen varietal top)
Red 1. Cabernet Sauvignon
2. Pinot Noir
3. Merlot
4. Zinfandel
5. Malbec
6. Syrah
7. Sangiovese
8. “Other”
27.2
25.0
12.5
12.0
3.2
2.7
2.2
15.2
White 1. Chardonnay
2. Sauvignon Blanc
3. Pinot Grigio
4. Moscato
5. “Other”
43.5
18.5
16.3
13.1
8.6
Among the proposed labels for the H2O beverage, the one for the Rosé was deemed the most
attractive (most popular) one. Interestingly, a mere 50% of participants noted that they look at
the nutrition label and consider the relevant information when making a purchasing decision
for a sparkling water beverage. Questions on frequency of consumption referring to soda-type
drinks, sparkling water and hard-Seltzer aimed at discerning the extent to which these products
are interesting to our participants, since the beverage tested (H2O / H2) could be characterized
as a beverage in the interface of sparkling water, soft beverage and Seltzer.
4.3. Participant-consumer response to H2O/H2 beverage
The majority of participants read the logo “H2as “H2O” recognized/pronounced: “H two
oh” (131/184, i.e.: 71.2%) and stated they did not consider the label confusing (129/184, i.e.:
70.1%) (Figure 1). Of all the participants, 71% declared that they would “very likely/yes” purchase
H2O, 21.5% responded they would “most likely/maybe” purchase H2O and 7.5% responded “not
likely/no”. More than half indicated that they would be very interested in drinking/tasting the H2O
beverage (Figure 2). In terms of willingness to pay, overall, when asked about the price suggestion
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
44
(33–54)
($ 9.99/ 4×16oz cans) 89/184 indicated that it is “less than expected” while 71/184 indicated
that the suggested price was “about what they would expect” for such a product (Figure 2).
Interestingly, the overall acceptance of the product increased further when a serving suggestion
was presented to participants, arguably indicating that consumers prefer some “introduction/
education” on novel food/beverage concepts, which novel producers may then benefi t from. It is
worth noting that the particular cohort in this study constitutes a more challenging audience due to
the greater attainment of nutrition-based knowledge and the higher level of health consciousness,
which may have resulted in increased skepticism towards non-traditional foods and beverages.
Additionally, 79% of participants indicated their preference for sparkling water infused with wine
grape juice as opposed to infusion with dealcoholized wine (Figure 3). As part of the survey, the
participants were asked a series of questions regarding the degree to which certain statements
on the beverage packaging contribute to their decision-making process towards selecting and
purchasing. These questions are primarily related to health-related issues and can be associated
with health and wellbeing, as well as safety. More specifi cally, participants rated the overall
importance of a series of nutritional benefi ts when purchasing a beverage answering via a Likert
scale [least (1) to most (100); x
̄ ± SEM]. Results were as follows in terms of scoring the importance
of each characteristic: No Alcohol: 45/100 ± 2.6, Number of Calories: 62.8/100 ± 2.3, No Artifi cial
Flavors: 52.9/100 ± 2.5, No Sulfi tes: 39.4/100 ± 2.5, Gluten Free: 23.7/100 ± 2.4, Good Source of
Vitamin B12: 42.3/100 ± 2.3, Good Source of Vitamin C: 45.6/100 ± 2.2, Vegan: 24.3/100 ± 2.5, No
Added Sugars: 63.5/100 ± 2.4, No Fat: 45.5/100 ± 2.5, No Trans-Fat: 59/100 ± 2.7, No Saturated
Fat: 51.6/100 ± 2.6, Non-GMO: 37.5/100 ± 2.6, No Artifi cial Sweeteners: 56.1/100 ± 2.6, No
Cholesterol: 41.3/100 ± 2.6, Electrolytes (Calcium, Ca & Potassium, K): 54/100 ± 2.3 (Table 4).
Do you consider the label presented confusing in any way?
Yes
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
n = 55
(29.9%)
n = 129
(70.1%)
No
Figure 1
Participants’ responses on the clarity of the label presented for “H2O/H2
Given what you know now about H2O, how likely
is for you to purchase it?
71%
21.5%
7.5%
Very likely/Yes
Most likely/Maybe
Not likely/No
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
45
(33–54)
Figure 2
Willingness to purchase “H2O/H2” at suggested price
Willingness to pay ($9.99/4x16oz cans)
48%
39%
13%
Less than expected
About what expecte
d
More than expected
Figure 3
Extract type preference for infusion to “H2O/H2
Type of extract infused preference
79%
21%
Wine grape juice
Dealcoholized wine
Table 4
Overall importance of nutritional benefi ts when purchasing a beverage
Statement x
̄ ± SEM* % rating > 50/100**
No Alcohol 45.0 ± 2.6 49.0
Calorie content 62.8 ± 2.3 70.7
No Artifi cial Flavors 52.9 ± 2.5 57.7
No Sulfi tes 39.4 ± 2.5 38.1
Gluten-Free 23.7 ± 2.4 24.5
Good Source of Vitamin B12 42.3 ± 2.3 46.2
Good Source of Vitamin C 45.6 ± 2.2 47.3
Vegan 24.3 ± 2.5 26.1
No Added Sugars 63.5 ± 2.4 70.7
No Fat 45.5 ± 2.5 48.9
No Trans Fat 59.0 ± 2.7 62.5
No Saturated Fat 51.6 ± 2.6 54.4
Non-GMO 37.5 ± 2.6 37.5
No Artifi cial Sweeteners 56.1 ± 2.6 61.4
No Cholesterol 41.3 ± 2.6 43.5
Extra electrolytes (Ca & K) 54.0 ± 2.3 59.8
* Participants responded on a 0-100 Likert scale (0: least – 100: most); results are reported as: scoring mean values (x
̄) ± SEM.
** Percent of participants who rated the corresponding statement over 50/100.
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
46
(33–54)
Regarding cluster score distributions, participants scored over 50/100 at the following rates:
for “no alcohol” 49%, for “calorie content” 70.7%, for “no arti cial fl avors” 57.7%, for “no
sulfi tes” 38.1%, for “gluten free” 24.5%, for “good source of vitamin B
12
” 46.2%, for “good
source of vitamin C” 47.3%, for “vegan” 26.1%, for “no added sugars” 70.7%, for “no fat”
48.9%, for “no trans-fat” 62.5%, for “no saturated fat” 54.4%, for “non-GMO” 37.5%, for “no
artifi cial sweeteners” 61.4%, for “no cholesterol” 43.5% and for “electrolytes” 59.8% (Table 4).
Finally, participants were asked: “Which of the following best describes your need for such
sparkling beverage [least (1) to most (100) x
̄ ± SEM]”, and were asked to score: Health benefi ts,
Novelty, Thirst, Nutritional Composition, Attractive Package, Drink with a meal/snack/ at
dinner. In this question, Health benefi ts received a mean score of 35.7/100 ± 2.2, Novelty was
33.8/100 ± 2.3, Thirst was 32.1/100 ± 2.3, Nutritional composition was 36.8/100 ± 2.3, Attractive
packaging was 41.1/100 ± 2.8 and Drink it with a meal/snack/at dinner was 41.0/100 ± 2.5.
Interestingly, when looking at the score clustering distributions participants scored over 50/100 at
levels of 37.5% for the motivation for purchasing for health benefi ts, 26.6% for novelty, 33.7% for
thirst, 29.9% for nutritional composition, 35.4% for attractive packaging and 42.8% for drink with
meal/snack/at dinner (Table 5). Finally, when we asked our cohort as per the personal criteria they
use when making decisions regarding beverage purchases, the following ranking was produced:
The majority of responses included nutrition/health as the number one criterion, closely followed
by taste/fl avors and cost/price. Other criteria include occasion/mood of the moment, attractiveness
of the package and sustainability practices in the beverage production (supplement: Figure S2).
Table 5
Reason best describing the participants’ need for such sparkling beverage [least (1) to most (100)]
Reason selected x
̄ ± SEM* % of participants rating over 50/100
Health benefi t(s) 35.7 ± 2.2 37.5
Novelty 33.8 ± 2.3 26.6
Thirst 32.1 ± 2.3 33.7
Nutritional composition 36.8 ± 2.3 29.9
Attractive package 41.1 ± 2.8 35.4
Drink with a meal/snack/at dinner 41.0 ± 2.5 42.8
*Mean value of 1-100 scores ± SEM.
**Percent of participants who rated the corresponding statement over 50/100.
5. DISCUSSION
In the recent years, there is steadily growing interest in the beverage industry for novel drinks
that possess functional characteristics with potential to promote health and be versatile into
covering a wide variety of consumer needs and demands. As alcoholic drinks and soda-type drinks
are seeing a gradual decline in preference, novel beverage concepts have become more attractive
both for consumers and stakeholders. In the pilot study described herein, we evaluated the initial
response and acceptability of a novel premium sparkling water-based beverage infused with
wine grape extract and dealcoholized wine fortifi ed with vitamins and electrolytes by a potential
consumer. The particular beverage was selected because it functions as a novel category defi ning
(that of Soft Seltzer) product (that of Sonoma Soft Seltzer). We distributed an acceptability
survey over an on-line platform to 184 healthy and health-conscious College students to discern
predisposition towards a novel concept and representative product.
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
47
(33–54)
As discussed in the review, a large contingency in terms of purchase is price. From a practical
standpoint, price certainly constitutes a highly important determinant for food choices and
purchases (Abadio Finco et al., 2010; Quester et al., 1998, Sparke et al., 2009). Typically,
inverse relationships are seen between price and utility/purchase, while more specifi cally as price
increases the utility decreases (Silva et al., 2016), although the regression equation describing that
relationship is not always linear. There may be a resistance in the sharpness of the curve whereby
a consumer may be willing to pay more if they consider the product worthwhile. Factors that
strengthen the willingness of the consumer to pay even a relatively disproportionate rate when
considering the price/utility relationship, include health bene ts and/or status (Silva et al., 2016).
In our study, as the price was asked at the end of the questionnaire and after the participants were
familiar with the concept and health/diet related characteristics of the product, they assessed that
the product was at a price that generally either considered fair or even lower than expected.
It is also evident that nutritional/health factors, including calorie content, quality of ingredients
and constituents that may infer health benefi t(s). Low calorie content, lack of artifi cial avoring
and addition of natural ingredients, as well as vitamins and minerals are generally perceived
as healthy and as our results indicated signifi cant importance is placed upon such aspects, thus
infl uencing predisposition of the consumer towards a product, especially when it is new (Silva
et al., 2016; Hoefkens et al., 2013; Jalloh et al., 2018; French et al., 2017).
As highlighted in the study by Bechoff et al., body image-conscious consumers prefer lower
calorie products and hold that as an important attribute when making a purchase. This is something
our results also agree with as our cohort of more educated, nutrition/health literate, young-age,
mostly female individuals indicated preference for infusion of juice over dealcoholized wine.
Furthermore, our results aligned with those of other studies in that a high value was placed on the
antioxidant content and other relevant health-supporting aspects (Silva et al., 2016).
Our results show that our participants have a low tendency towards purchasing soda-type
beverages, while they also scored relatively low on the frequency of beer/wine consumption.
Nonetheless, more than half consume sparkling water fairly regularly (several times a week to
every day). Their profi le appears thus more conservative if approached from a dietary and health
consciousness standpoint. This fi nding is interesting as typically, female college students are
more knowledgeable than non-college females and males (Bodenlos et al., 2015). Furthermore,
when College status is combined with knowledge in the eld of Nutrition and Health, health
consciousness and conservatism with food and beverage choices due to health and appearance
concerns reasonably increases (Food and Nutrition, 2020; Bodenlos et al., 2015). There are
several studies indicating that College females tend to be health-conscious (Hawley et al., 2016),
while a review of the evidence showed that certain characteristics, such as being Caucasian and
educated, increase both health-consciousness and awareness among females (Ramachandran
et al., 2016).
Based on our results, we did see increased conservatism with choices and answers as well
as interest in health aspects of the product evaluated. Further to this point, our results show
that statements in support of health and natural origin of ingredients and functional properties
of beverage are particularly valued by the participants. Moreover, if this is combined with
the reason/ motivation a participant would have to purchase this product, health benefi ts
and packaging are the top-rated reasons. This underscores the emphasis on health and the
importance of attractive packaging with regards to design as well as information conveyance.
Appearance, packaging and logo presentation clearly constitute important determinants towards
purchasing decisions. Interestingly, in certain consumer groups, the packaging information is
not as important as health information as reported for the Bissap beverage tested in European
consumers in Portugal (Food and Nutrition, 2020, Silva et al., 2016). Other studies also underline
the importance of health/ functional food properties seen with functional orange juice; whereby
packaging information holds a relative importance higher than the promotional health claims
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
48
(33–54)
(Abadio Finco et al., 2010). A potential explanation for such fi ndings is provided by Bech-Larsen
and Grunert (2003), proposing that consumers’ perception on functional foods healthiness is more
based on product’s perceived nutritional value than health and other promotional claims per se
(Bech-Larsen et al., 2003). Nutrition knowledge is considered a necessary, yet not suffi cient factor
for consumer behavior change (Dickson-Spillmann et al., 2011). Specifi cally in college students,
factors including stress, short sleep durations, fi nancial and time limitations, and lifestyle-related
may lead to the development of unhealthy eating habits (Sogari et al., 2018), while the levels of
knowledge on nutrition may aff ect eating habits (Rivera et al., 2020).
Health benefi ts function as a motivation for purchasing foods and beverages illustrated by
Samoggia and Riedel (2019) and Wills (2012). Moreover, health claims are more likely to be seen
more positively if associated with an ingredient maintaining an overall positive health perception,
while familiarity with the ingredient increases likelihood for purchase. Compared to food items,
there appears to be less literature regarding beverages, especially non-alcoholic outside of coff ee
and tea. Due to the often times minimal regulation, highly variable levels of knowledge paid
towards health claims, misinterpretation and confusion regarding the true meaning of health
claims is not uncommon (Annunziata et al., 2019). Presenting accurate information to a lay-
audience in a friendly manner and with simple terms is important, both for the sake of more
appropriately informing the consumer but also for a fair promotion of food and beverage
products. In our study, the vast majority of participants did not fi nd the label, logo or information
of the product confusing, however we need to note that our participants are nutrition and health
literate above average, so they are not necessarily representative of the general public. Our sample
characteristics may render them more “demanding” consumers as per the nutritional value of their
dietary choices, since having healthy eating knowledge along with current information, nutrition
self-effi cacy, as well as the opportunity and the motivation can help consumers in making healthy
food choices and overall healthier diets (Block et al., 2011).
Consumption of energy drinks in college students has been associated with a higher BMI
and unhealthy dietary behaviors including increased soda and frozen meal consumption, and
decreased intakes of fruits, vegetables, milk and breakfast (Poulos et al., 2015). In a study of
800 college students in China, SSBs intake was documented to mediate the associations among
sleep duration, late chronotype (tendency towards eveningness) and weight gain (Li et al.,
2018). In another study of female and male student athletes, it was observed that while student
athletes tended to refrain from the use of energy drinks, among those who do consume energy
drinks, the level of nutrition knowledge was lower. Such fi ndings indicate the need for nutrition
education in student-athletes, specifi cally for energy drink consumption, since the benefi ts of their
consumption in collegiate athletes is supported by limited evidence only (Hardy et al., 2017). The
role the level of nutrition-based knowledge plays in determining beverage preference is evident
from our student sample in which young health-conscious consumers reported a lower preference
for soda or alcoholic beverages, and a higher preference for healthier beverage choices such as
sparkling water.
Conclusively, our results indicate that in a young audience above average in nutrition literacy,
the novel concept for a Soft Seltzer (namely a sparkling water-based beverage infused with
wine grape juice and California dealcoholized wine, fortifi ed with vitamins and electrolytes) has
traction and interest from a conceptual aspect without actual tasting. Given that our audience
was characterized by higher health and nutrition awareness and more conservative beverage
choice and purchasing behavior, the acceptance rates obtained especially without tasting could
be deemed signifi cant thus indicating that a rather large portion of participants are interested
in such types of products while with potential further education about potential health benefi ts,
evidence-based fi ndings supporting biological plausibility and introduction to actual products, it
is reasonable to expect a further increased acceptability. Furthermore, the fact that our participants
are College students, often met with limited fi nancial means, can justify a stricter approach in
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
49
(33–54)
terms of price acceptability and willingness to pay, albeit these rates were still very high in our
obtained results. The age group of our participants, although clearly of legal alcohol drinking
age, deems the group more likely to look for “actual” alcohol as opposed to “substitutes” if they
decide to choose an alcohol-like beverage, which possibly explains the clear preference for wine
grape juice infusion as opposed to dealcoholized wine. Finally, it is important to note that these
results determine reception to only one brand, and therefore claims cannot be made for all novel
products in this category. Overall, our aim for purposely choosing this cohort was to take a more
conservative and strict approach so that results could be more robust and safer for the general
population.
There is signifi cant potential for further functionality and fortifi cation of those types of
beverages with selected amino acids and/or other bioactive compounds either in isolation or
mixtures with antioxidant anti-infl ammatory properties for improving muscle health and
sarcopenia and potentially improving the gut microbiome, as well as hydration status (Maykish
et al., 2020; Sikalidis & Maykish, 2020). Research in the fi eld suggests that including other
factors related to purchase could provide interesting results. The growth of premium mixers for
zero-alcohol beverages made with exotic herbal ingredients seems to be a growing area. A price
tag which is refl ective of high-quality ingredients was rendered acceptable by consumers. The
contemporary consumer is more interested in the story of the food, i.e. fair trade, organic, local,
natural, less to minimally processed, authentic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and personalized, often
placing a greater emphasis on quality over quantity. Therefore, novel products which combine
the above criterion, with the additional potential to support health and wellbeing, are expected to
have good traction with the public (Sikalidis, 2019; Sikalidis et al., 2020). The H2O Soft Seltzer
as a concept aims to present a non-alcoholic beverage with nutritive value as per vitamins and
electrolytes, alternative to alcoholic Hard Seltzer which in most cases provides low to minimal
nutritive value. Furthermore, the lifestyle/presentation aspects are important in terms of purchase
decisions (supplement: Figure S2). The ndings presented here on H2O/ H
2
Sonoma Soft
Seltzer1 can provide useful information and guidance for product design and development for
novel beverages. Results may be also useful from a nutraceutical standpoint as well as to the
beverage industry in general.
6. CONCLUSIONS
The assessment of a novel sparkling water-based beverage infused with wine grape juice and
California dealcoholized wine across a young college audience revealed that H2O / H2 Soft
Seltzer revealed an interest for its potential health benefi ts and novelty. The label was determined
to be clear, despite being information-dense. Stronger preference was for avors Cabernet
Sauvignon and Chardonnay, while the Rosé label appeared as the most attractive to female
participants. The level of acceptability was determined to be signifi cant, especially considering
the more conservative characteristics in terms of health consciousness of the participant group
and the lack of a tasting session. As wine drinkers often note, the nuances of drinking wine go
beyond mere alcohol and are attributed to other grape-derived ingredients. Therefore, beverage
suggestions that preserve these desirable characteristics in the absence of alcohol, promoting
health and satisfaction while maintaining the lifestyle of the consumer, may strongly claim
a well-positioned niche in the preference of consumers.
1
To better characterize H2O / H
2
, and describe its niche in terms of category placement, the term Sonoma Soft Seltzer was introduced by
Spyridon Zanganas who envisioned the concept of a sparkling water beverage infused with premium California dealcoholized wine, 100% pure
California wine-grape juice and natural fl avorings qualifying as a non-alcoholic drink [54].
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
Journal of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour in Emerging Markets 2(11)2020
Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
50
(33–54)
Disclaimer
“Soft Seltzer” and “H2are both registered trademarks (™) with the United States Patent and
Trademark Offi ce (USPTO), under the serial numbers: #88767946 (Soft Seltzer) and #88731521
(H2), respectively. H2 is registered (®) with the #6134847 US registration number. The use of
these terms in the manuscript herein is solely done for scientifi c purposes under the permission of
the trademark holder and is not intended for advertisement purposes whatsoever.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank for the access to product information and
informative discussions, the Georgos Greek Wine Co., and Deerfi eld Ranch Winery in Kenwood,
Sonoma Valley, California.
Con ict of Interest
Authors declare no confl ict of interest.
Funding
Support was through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, California
Polytechnic State University via an FSN-382 grant awarded to Dr. Angelos Sikalidis.
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H2O Seltzer 0.0% – The World’s 1st Wine-Infused Soft Seltzer – No Alcohol Soft Seltzer | The World’s 1st Wine-
Infused Sparkling Beverage with 0.0% Alcohol – Sonoma, CA, 95452. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2020,
from https://h2oseltzer.com/
© Faculty of Management University of Warsaw. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.7172/2449-6634.jmcbem.2020.2.3
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Angelos K. Sikalidis, Aleksandra S. Kristo, Anita H. Kelleher, Adeline Maykish
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(33–54)
8. SUPPLEMENTS
Figure S1
Graphical representation of an artesian well as per United States Geological Survey (USGS, 2020)
Figure S2
Graphical representation of the “H2O/H2 Sonoma Soft Setzer” as launched (H2O, 2020)
... In doing so, a larger consumer base may be generated, as education and clarity surrounding the product may increase, garnering larger interest. Novel products involving premium wine and wine grapes could thus also be developed, while also their market penetration facilitated [62,63]. ...
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Background: Among adults and children consuming Western diets, beverages are significant sources of free sugars, saturated fats, excess calories, and alcohol, with relevance to chronic disease risk. The impact of recent healthy eating policies and beverage market evolutions on population-level consumption patterns in Canada is unknown. The current study examined trends in intake of a range of beverage types among a nationally-representative sample of Canadians, with stratification by socio-demographic characteristics. Methods: The 2004 (n = 34,775) and 2015 (n = 20,176) nutrition-focused cycles of the Canadian Community Health Surveys are cross-sectional surveys representative of the population of the 10 Canadian provinces. Based on a single multiple-pass 24-h dietary recall for each participant, fluids consumed as beverages were grouped into seven categories. Using linear regression, reported intake (volume, ml and energy, kcal) of each category was characterized over time and in relation to sex, age, ethnicity, income, body mass index (BMI), and province of residence. Results: In 2015, Canadians reported consuming an average of 1806 ml (275 kcal) fluids as beverages per day, including: plain water 867 ml (0 kcal); other unsweetened beverages, e.g. coffee, 364 ml (6 kcal); sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) 204 ml (99 kcal); plain milk 132 ml (64 kcal); alcoholic drinks 120 ml (71 kcal); 100% juice 74 ml (34 kcal); and diet or low calorie beverages 44 ml (2 kcal). Differential consumption was observed across socio-demographic groups, with high consumption of sugary drinks (i.e., SSBs and 100% juice) and alcohol across groups. From 2004 to 2015, the reported volumes of beverages consumed decreased by 10% (energy: - 24%). With adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics, there were significant changes (p < 0.001) over time in intake of: 100% juice - 40% (- 38%); plain milk - 37% (- 35%); SSBs - 26% (- 20%); diet or low calorie beverages (- 46%); and other unsweetened beverages - 11% (- 42%). The volume of plain water consumed increased by 10% (p < 0.0001). Intake of alcoholic (volume and energy) and diet or light beverages did not change significantly. Conclusions: Lower intake of beverages was reported by Canadians in 2015 versus 2004, with a shift towards plain water. Consumption of sugary drinks decreased, but these beverages continue to contribute substantially to Canadians' overall energy intake. The findings underscore the need for policies to further reduce the consumption of sugary and alcoholic beverages, as well as calories from beverages.
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Coffee is popular worldwide and consumption is increasing, particularly in non-traditional markets. There is evidence that coffee consumption may have beneficial health effects. Consumers’ beliefs in the health benefits of coffee are unclear. The study aimed at analyzing consumers’ perceptions of coffee health benefits, consumption and purchasing motives of coffee consumers with positive perceptions of coffee health benefits, and willingness to pay for coffee with associated health claims. Data were collected through a face-to-face survey with consumers, resulting in a convenience sample of 250 questionnaires valid for data elaboration. Results were elaborated with factor analysis and logistic regression analysis. Findings revealed that a relevant minority of consumers believed that coffee could have positive health effects. The consumer with a positive perception of coffee health benefits is mostly male, young, works, is familiar with non-espresso-based coffee, consumes a limited amount of coffee (generally not for breakfast and often in social settings), and buys coffee at retail outlets. Consumers drink coffee for its energetic and therapeutic effects. Coffee consumption is still price-driven, but consumers are interested in purchasing coffee with associated health claims. There is the opportunity to improve the perception of coffee health benefits in consumers’ minds.
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