How the new wave of prebiotic soda brands are taking CPG by storm
If you’ve been in the drink aisle at the grocery store recently, you’ve probably noticed the influx of colorful cans nestled among the familiar Coke and Pepsi shelves.
With fun names like “Olipop” and “Poppi,” brands are transforming not-so-healthy favorites into a novel type of health conscious drink. Known as prebiotic sodas, this new wave of carbonated drinks contains prebiotic fibers that feed the good bacteria in your gut. But unlike stereotypical health drinks—think rock-solid smoothies and fermented veg—prebiotic sodas taste good.
Sodas are nothing new, so why are these healthier versions dominating the shelves? It’s partly because consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious. Tons of recent research has revealed an undeniable link between our gut health and our mental and physical health.
But these new prebiotic soda brands are finding their competitive edge in ways that serve as great inspo for any aspiring CPG business.
Last year, the global prebiotic soda market was valued at $210.4 million and is set to grow to $443.8 million by 2032. Safe to say, the wave has only just begun.
The major brands in the prebiotic soda space
There are always a few frontrunners that emerge with a new trend, and the prebiotic soda scene is no different. Recognizable DTC brands like Olipop and Poppi have made a splash on the shelves and are now firm go-tos in the space.
Here are the best prebiotic soda brands around (and what makes them so successful).
Olipop’s pastel-colored cans and the huge range of flavors have made it the top dog in the new soda scene. As well as original flavor combos like Orange Squeeze and Watermelon Lime, the brand has recreated some old favorites too: Vintage Cola, Classic Root Beer, and Cream Soda.
But it’s not just the flavors that are benefitting Olipop’s position in the market. The brand prides itself on its minimal use of sugar—it claims to cut out up to 98% of sugar found in regular soda and replace it with 9 grams of microbiome-supporting fiber. It uses natural ingredients like cassava root, marshmallow root, and cactus to create subtle but delicious flavor pairings.
The TLDR on how Olipop is winning:
- Vibrant branding - physical and brand voice
- Unique product offer - flavors + disruptive innovation
- Strong positioning on their subscription program (see below)
- Social media relevance (see section on #guttok below)
- Influencer marketing - tons of voices talking about their product
Olipop does a great job of purveying the value of their subscription program. They’re checking all the boxes - clear monetary win for the customer, exclusive early access to new flavors for subscribers, easy, free delivery, and flexibility in swapping, canceling etc.
Takeaways: Make it easy to digest why your subscriptions are so attractive and show ease and flexibility for your audience.
Poppi is one of the best-known Olipop alternatives and has created its own colorful space on soda shelves around the country. The brand openly talks about its unique use of apple cider vinegar, which is said to help weight loss, reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and improve the symptoms of diabetes.
But that’s not all. Poppi also claims its products improve the immune system, complexion, and energy levels. These diverse health benefits and the summery flavors (Raspberry Rose, Strawberry Lemon, and Cherry Limeade to name a few) have made it a resounding hit with health-conscious soda lovers.
The TLDR on how Poppi is winning:
- Standout branding - both visual and brand voice
- Unique product offer with an emphasis on seasonal/limited flavors
- Excellent variety bundle options (see below)
- Social media - a little meme-y, a little bit of influencer marketing (see below)
- Small line of merch - fun, vibrant, funny graphics
Poppi is crushing the bundle game with their multipacks. They make it so attractive to purchase a variety pack, between the flavors and the value, that you can hardly resist purchasing in higher quantities on their site. It's a major AOV win and a great way to introduce more flavors to get their customers hooked.
Takeaways: Creating a distinct brand visually and in brand voice, plus getting creative with bundles is a recipe for success.
3. Wild Wonder
Shark Tank favorite Wild Wonder markets itself as “a better drink for gut health”. Playing on the health benefits of prebiotic soda, it combines traditional flavors with contemporary ingredients such as peach puree and fresh-brewed turmeric to create a range of organic, vegan, and GMO-free fizzy pops.
With flavors like Strawberry Passion, Mango Gold, and Guava Rose, the brand claims to improve immunity, digestion, mood, and brain health with real fruit and herbs and less than 35 calories per can.
The TLDR on how Wild Wonder is winning:
- BIG on social proof - Shark Tank and others all over the site (see below)
- Market differentiator: “World’s first probiotic + prebiotic beverage”
- Passionate founder & CEO is the face of the brand - strong branding voice
- Robust subscription options with tons of flexible offerings
- Great ads and retargeting program (literally got an ad for a specific product, right after looking at it, as I was looking while writing this article…)
Takeaways: If you have tons of media exposure, use it to your benefit (website, emails, social content etc). And if you have a passionate founder as your voice and figurehead, people love to buy products from people (over faceless, nameless companies).
Why is prebiotic soda so hot right now?
It’s not just the colors and casual language that’s bringing prebiotic soda brands so much momentum. The rise of the sober-curious movement combined with new research highlighting the link between gut health, mood, digestion, and disease prevention have made them a pretty formidable disruptor in the beverage market.
The numbers speak for themselves. Olipop went from a $100k investment by its founders in 2017 to a major CPG brand that’s on track to turnover $200 million in revenue this year.
Here’s what these prebiotic brands are doing to stay ahead.
Running their own research
Olipop has been running its own funded research alongside manufacturing its products. In fact, findings have revealed that drinking one can of Olipop a day for 30 days can lead to improved health benefits through a boost in good bacteria.
Aligning with cross-industry trends
It’s difficult to tell if Olipop and other prebiotic brands would be as successful if it weren’t for the #guttok trend playing out in tandem. As interest in gut health began to grow, so did the CPG brands that were relevant to its cause—including prebiotic sodas. In January 2023, the hashtag #guttok surpassed 700 million views on TikTok, which happened to coincide with Olipop hitting $100 million in gross revenue. Coincidence? We don’t think so.
The sober-curious movement has also been gaining momentum during this time, with consumers actively seeking out tasty alternatives to beer, wine, and liquor.
Here’s a super fun post from Poppi that transcends just drink-focused content, gives a wink to their fun merch line, and references some current clothing and footwear trends.
The future of prebiotic soda sales
Prebiotic soda sales are set to double in the next decade, so we can safely assume this trend isn’t going anywhere. With brands like Olipop and Poppi cementing themselves as household names in the grocery store, it’s only a matter of time before we see similar brands launching their equivalent bold flavors.
The continued rise of the health-conscious consumer paired with a growing sober-curious movement has set the scene for prebiotic sodas that are tasty and beneficial to our guts. All we can say is: Watch this space.
Stay tuned for more profiles like these! We love to watch how CPG verticals operate and how trends so quickly take off and progress over time.