“Shock” beverages are on the rise—and FOMO is to blame

A new survey finds that consumers are driven by curiosity, as well as a fear of missing out, when purchasing novelty drinks.

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Close-up of Jones Turkey & Gravy soda
Photo: Ron Wurzer (Getty Images)

This year alone, we’ve seen Flamin’ Hot MTN DEW, Peeps-flavored Pepsi, and the return of Jones Turkey & Gravy Soda. And, according to a Q2 survey conducted by GlobalData, these novelty soda flavors aren’t going anywhere. Why? Two reasons: fear of missing out (FOMO, as the kids say), and blind curiosity.

In a press release sent to The Takeout, GlobalData ascertains that “leading drinks brands are making room to experiment with unique, limited-time-only flavors that entice a young generation.” George Shaw, a beverages analyst at GlobalData, explains that the aforementioned “young generation” seems to be easily influenced by a fear of missing out on wild ‘n’ wacky social media trends. “These shock factor, experimental beverages tug on the ‘FOMO’ strings—especially when a lot of buzz is generated across different social platforms,” says Shaw. “Capturing the attention of online influencers is key as they could share the ‘crazy concoctions’ to their social feeds.” (If you’ve got a second, search TikTok for “Flamin’ Hot MTN DEW” and check out the hundreds, probably thousands, of video results.)

Shaw adds that the limited-time nature of most of these novelty flavors adds to their FOMO factor. “Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew was both a limited edition, as well as limited to two six-can cases per order—creating an air of exclusivity and leveraging FOMO,” Shaw says, explaining that PepsiCo’s collaboration with Peeps earlier this year was only available to participants via a social media contest.

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Finally, the survey found that curiosity is also a powerful drive. According to the release, around a third of U.S. consumers purchase new varieties of soft drinks out of sheer curiosity. I can relate, as someone who’ll famously try any food or beverage once. After all, if you never try anything new, how will you discover surprising favorites? That said, I think I’m good on turkey-flavored soda. Maybe next year.