You Are What You Drink: Beverages as Status Symbols
You Are What You Drink: Beverages as Status Symbols
You Are What You Drink: Beverages as Status Symbolshttps://www.chutegerdeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/drinks-status-symbol-header-2.jpg1440428Chute GerdemanChute Gerdemanhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/27b8b1d5d4480e694e1d763231b8e868?s=96&d=mm&r=g
In this age of media-worthy lifestyles and curated personal brands, consumers are no longer merely sipping their favorite beverages; they are embodying the essence of the brand, or the brand’s ambassadors, with each refreshing sip. Drinks have once again become status symbols, elixirs of aspiration, leaving us pondering not just the taste, but the lifestyle, luxury, and identity encapsulated within each bottle.
Today, we carry around our reusable water bottles, refilling directly from the tap. But back before plastic waste was concerning to most consumers, bottled water was bougie. We admired clean rows of identical plastic bottles served on trays or lined up in celebrity fridges.
Smartwater, Perrier, Evian, Fiji, Voss… the list of options was endless. We were sold on the promise that bottled water is good for hair and skin, healthier than soft drinks, and safer than tap water. But by 2016, the backlash against discarded bottles polluting our environment erupted. Suddenly, carrying around plastic bottles of water became uncool.
Water has not gone out of style, but the plastic waste sure has. Boxed Water and Liquid Death are two modern day water brands that can be spotted on tour with bands, at music festivals, and in countless podcast videos. Liquid Death has drawn attention for its heavy metal brand aesthetic and aluminum can container that can be recycled an infinite number of times. Andrea Hernandez, a food and beverage brand expert and founder of Snaxshot, says, “I feel that they actually care about sustainability and don’t just use it as an advertising point.”
With celebrity endorsements including Tony Hawk, Martha Stewart, Travis Barker, and Wiz Khalifa, Liquid Death is an identity signifier, letting others know that anyone who drinks it is the type of person who appreciates its irreverence and environmental values. Being hydrated is so rock n’roll 🤘
To Your Health, Maybe
“Mindful drinking” and “sober curious” are not just buzz terms; they have become ways of life for many in our post-pandemic world. Paying close attention to these behavioral shifts, the beverage industry has responded with functional and healthy beverages including non-alcoholic, CBD-infused, adaptogen-packed, and naturally-derived energy drinks.
CBD-infused relaxation drinks—once only served in haughty establishments—have gone mainstream. Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, these drinks offer health benefits including mood regulation and memory support. CBD-Infused Strawberry Gin by Aqua Sativa and Vita Coca’s CBD-infused Cola are just two of the many CBD-infused options that have become popular—and celebrity interest is undoubtedly contributing to their rise.
Take former NFL star Terrell Davis who launched his CBD-infused beverage DEFY to help alleviate post-workout pain. His mission, to “provide athletes and active individuals the benefits of our clean, healthy performance-driven products while continuing to support the underserved communities that we represent,” also reflects social purpose—something that resonates with today’s consumers.
Other famous names in the non-alcoholic space include Katy Perry, co-creator of wine-inspired De Soi sparkling drinks that mix juices, botanicals and adaptogens; Bella Hadid, co-founder of Kin Euphorics, a line of beverages that blends adaptogens, botanicals, nootropics (cognitive enhancers); and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who launched ZOA Energy, a non-alcoholic drink brand, in 2021. The fastest-growing energy drink in the U.S., ZOA Energy contains vitamins B and C, antioxidant-packed camu camu berries, and caffeine derived from green tea leaves.
From actors and athletes to models and musicians, celebrities of all types are forging lucrative brand partnerships with spirits brands and even creating their own. A growing number of celebrities invest their own capital upfront and, over time, earn a stake in the company and a slice of the revenue that is tied to the success of the product. Take Gran Coramino Reposado Cristalino tequila as just one example. It’s a collaboration between actor and comedian Kevin Hart and 11th-generation tequila maker Juan Domingo Beckmann.
Countless celebs have created their own alcohol brands. You might be hard-pressed to find one who hasn’t. Kate Hudson, Emma Watson, Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Reynolds, and George Clooney are on the long list. Noticing a gap in the market for vodkas founded by women, Kate created one of her own: King St. Vodka.
Then there’s Clooney, who with two friends set out to create a small-batch tequila, Casamigos Tequila, that wouldn’t give them a hangover during their vacations together in Mexico. Their tequila proved so popular among friends that it inspired them to launch it as an international brand in 2013 and was sold for an incredible billion dollars within four years.
Clooney donated $21 million from the sale of Casamigos to charity. Specifically, he and his wife Amal granted $1 million to the non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center and gifted $20 million to their year-old foundation, the Clooney Foundation for Justice. The donation to his foundation will be earmarked toward helping refugees. “It will go toward educating refugees, it will go toward housing, it will go to all the things that we want to work on,” stated Clooney.
You Are What You Drink
In a world with innumerable choices, it’s clear that our decisions regarding what we consume, whether it be drinks or other products, are indeed expressions of our identity and aspirations. As consumers, we are not merely quenching our thirst or satisfying a basic need; we are crafting narratives about who we are and who we aspire to become.
Today’s celeb-endorsed drink brands employ meticulous branding strategies to reflect the prevailing values of today’s culture—social justice, human rights, and sustainability—to connect with consumers for whom values are important. There’s a potent connection between our consumer choices and our identities. In the end, what we choose to consume is more than just a matter of taste; it’s a reflection of our quest to define ourselves and to project our vision of the future, one sip, or one purchase at a time.