Case Study: How Recess Expanded the Beverage Industry

Case Study: How Recess Expanded the Beverage Industry

The Brightfield Team

Recess is a consumer wellness and lifestyle brand creating innovative beverage products and experiences designed to help people feel calm, focused, and relaxed. Recess launched its first product line in October 2018, consisting of CBD and adaptogen-infused flavored sparkling waters which the brand used to establish the usage occasion of “taking a Recess” and define the feeling “calm cool collected.” Now Recess is expanding from the strong foundation they have built to become a true relaxation platform that will play in multiple product categories over time.


Relaxation in the drink category

Finding new ways to de-stress seems like an American pastime. In fact, 56% of Americans say they are often anxious and stressed. Traditionally, one would look to caffeine to get enough energy throughout the day and alcohol to wind down. 23% of Americans looking to relax drink wine. 

As functional products evolve and consumer behavior shifts, consumers are looking to replace some occasions such as a second afternoon coffee or a weeknight glass of wine with beverages that help one feel calm and balanced. Consumers are adopting new types of functional ingredients and products into their lives to meet specific needs like relaxation. Innovation in the beverage industry is satisfying consumer demand. 

Adaptogens, for example, are a category of plants and mushrooms that are thought to increase the body’s resistance to stress by “adapting” to what the body needs.  

The list of claimed benefits includes reducing stress levels, supporting the body’s adrenal glands, and regulating hormone responses for an overall sense of homeostasis, or balance. Younger consumers are embracing adaptogens to address need states of holistic wellness, relaxation, exercise, and sleep. And companies like Pepsi® and Coca-Cola® have recently launched products with these ingredients targeted towards needs states like focus or relaxation. 

Recess wanted to dive deeper into the relaxation drink category. They know their target customers want to achieve a sense of calm and relaxation. The brand wants to ensure they meet those needs at any time of day. It’s about marketing the solution, not the ingredient. 


This case study further explores the relaxation need state, which ingredients come out on top, and how Recess entered the relaxation category, which is shaping the next generation of functional beverage innovation.

A deep dive into the relaxation need state

Relaxation is emerging as a “meta” category—similar to alcohol or energy drinks—with multiple subcategories within it. For example, there are various alcoholic beverages for specific occasions and need states. The occasion for drinking a light beer is different than the occasion for red wine, which is different from scotch or champagne. The relaxation category in beverages can consist of multiple segments for specific needs states, like relaxing, focusing, socializing, and sleeping.

Which ingredients fit into relaxation? 

There is a wide range of functional ingredients consumers are using and looking for to achieve relaxation. Mainstream ingredients like Vitamin C, D, and even caffeine, comprise the top of the chart. But many of these common ingredients that over-index on relaxation do not actually deliver that effect. This is an opportunity for beverages companies such as Recess to increase awareness around functional ingredients such as adaptogens, CBD, and magnesium for specific consumer needs like relaxation. 

CBD has significantly grown since the Farm Bill passed in 2018, but it is on an island in terms of emerging functional ingredients. Goji berry, lavender, and others like ashwagandha and licorice root over-index on relaxation. 

Functional ingredients are being infused into various product types and formats. They typically start in supplements and make their way to food and beverage products.  The chart below shows magnesium is already used by many Americans and over-indexes on the relaxation need state. So why aren’t there more relaxation beverages with magnesium?


Why magnesium? Aligning ingredients with innovation

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. According to Healthline, it can play several important roles in the health of your body and brain including improving exercise performance, combatting depression, and lowering blood pressure. It also over-indexes on the relaxation need state by 83%—a significant jump. 


The typical magnesium consumer heavily skews older and is using the mineral as a health supplement. Millennials and Gen Z actually under-index in purchasing magnesium which makes sense because they have historically not been the target market.

This was the opportunity Recess had been looking for.  Using Evergi data, they captured a new market of consumers looking to relax. They repositioned magnesium as a relaxation product in a format that Millennials want. This is innovative beverage marketing at play. Plus, there are few competitors in the magnesium beverage space, allowing for an easier entry point for the brand. 

The relaxation category is growing

It's value proposition is universal and is the only other category of products that alters our state of mind. These products tend to be the biggest opportunities for brands (like caffeine or alcohol). People are looking for products that help them get through life and deal with the world around them. Relaxation is one of those need states brands should be paying attention to if they want to innovate.

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