Neu/Trends: Bespoke Beverages

Increasingly, thirsty consumers can customize their drinks of choice

TrendCentral notes: In our crowdsourced culture, Gen Ys are accustomed to giving their opinion and seeing it recognized. As such, the trend toward customization has accelerated across multiple categories in recent months. Among the latest to emerge lets consumers customize their beverages of choice in terms of ingredient ratios and flavor profiles, all in the quest for the perfectly personal libation.

WhiskyBlender: In the wake of the (arguably ill-advised)pickleback trend, the whiskey business is thriving. Bourbon is experiencing a boom, and its sister, Scotch—once considered the definitive old guy drink—is seeing a similar comeback. Making the stark blend more accessible to the not-yet-grizzled, Glasgow-based WhiskyBlender’s virtual lablets customers craft a personalized mix from distinct Scotch flavors. Aficionados and novices alike can choose proportions of smoky, fruity, salty, buttery, nutty, and malty elements, highlighting their favorite tastes and merely hinting at others. Each custom blend receives a unique bottle code, so that customers who strike up flawless proportions can order their favorite alcoholic alchemy again and again.

uFlavor: Equal parts beverage company, lab, and marketplace, the uFlavor platform allows consumers to craft custom soft drink blends—and to potentially profit from the results. Like Coca-Cola’s Freestyle vending machines, at which consumers can mix and match among 127 Coke beverages to create their own soda blend, uFlavor prizes customization for the individual over production for the masses. But uFlavor takes the concept a step further, allowing users to fashion beverages from scratch by selecting individual flavors (rather than combining pre-produced drinks). Creators can showcase their beverages in a corresponding marketplace—and eventually in uFlavor vending machines—for a chance to earn a percentage of the profits.

Crowd Craft Project: With help from social media guru Guy KawasakiSamuel Adams called on Facebook fans to create a crowdsourced microbrew. Not unlike Vitaminwater’s 2009 flavorcreator, the interactive Crowd Craft Project let Sam drinkers contribute suggestions for a collaborative brew, identifying their preferences regarding the beer’s color, body and clarity, and its quantities of yeast, hops and malt. Those qualities which received the most votes will be incorporated into the brand new SKU, which is set to premiere next month at SXSW. The Crowd Craft Top Brew was finally revealed on Monday; bowing to fan preference, brewers are now at work producing a medium-bodied amber ale with spice and toffee overtones.

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