In a wellness-obsessed world where sparkling water reigns as the go-to source of hydration for many of us millennials, soda — linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other health issues — seems, honestly, a little passé. But in the same vein as your dad texting “It’s all gucci” to appear cool, Big Soda is trying to break into the wellness market. Today marks PepsiCo's release of Driftwell, a zero-calorie, zero-sugar drink that supposedly helps you relax.
The non-carbonated water has subtle lavender and blackberry flavor notes, according to Fast Company. It contains the amino L-theanine, as well as magnesium, both purported to help you sleep, although Mic previously reported that evidence of the latter’s snooze-promoting properties remains scant. PepsiCo will sell Driftwell in small, 7.5-ounce cans online in December, and in stores in early 2021, at a suggested (rather steep) $17.99 for a 10-pack.
The move reflects what Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities at PepsiCo Beverages North America, views as a huge growth in concern over sleep wellness recently, per Fast Company. Indeed, PepsiCo’s earning report cites analytics firm IRI’s finding that the over-the-counter sleep aid business is worth $1 billion, and 45% of Americans claim that stress keeps them awake at night, according to Gallup and the American Psychological Association. A pandemic, among other global crises, may nudge sleep even further out of reach.
Like Activia’s supposedly gut-health promoting yogurt and Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime tea, Driftwell belongs to the larger functional food and drinks category, or food and drinks that may have health benefits beyond their nutritional value, which Darren Seifer, food and beverage analyst at market research company NPD Group, predicts will only grow in popularity in this turbulent time, Fast Company reports. It marks a response to the many challenges Big Soda faces, including the health worries surrounding it, and brands’ increasing emphasis on wellness.
As a light sleeper who’s tried CBD, melatonin, and other “natural” sleep remedies, to no avail, I’m intrigued by PepsiCo’s pivot, but skeptical. While a restful night’s sleep sounds blissful, I’m hesitant to throw more cash at something that may or may not help me find it.