Cheers! How Healthy Drinks Brands Are Winning at Social Video

By Linda Freund · October 18, 2019

Cheers! How Healthy Drinks Brands Are Winning at Social Video

The beverage industry has entered a new era: the age of craft wellness and healthy drinks.

In the past few years, consumers have pivoted away from soft drinks, opting for beverages that market themselves as healthier. And drink companies have sprung up to quench this thirst with elixirs that promise mental clarity, immune strength, and total zen.

These emerging beverage brands are taking to social channels to establish their health credentials and brand voice. And they are engaging millennials (and their Gen Z siblings) big time.

Instagram, in particular, has become the wellness water cooler where brands promote such healthy drinks concoctions as flavored activated charcoal (yes, it’s a thing), medicinal mushroom tea, electrolyte-replenishing beers for athletes (#willsweatforbeer), and CBD-infused sodas.

“We created an antidote to modern times,” said Recess, an upstart sparkling water brand comprised of CBD oil & calming herbs. (And while you’re sipping away, click their Instagram-video feed to enjoy the sweet sound of a banana being peeled or relish in the mispronunciation of CBD.)

Video experiments like these are common in this niche market. They’re fresh, unexpected, and certainly exciting for other brands and publishers to learn from.

So, what are we waiting for? Bottoms up!

The New Healthy Drinks Motto: Pass the CBD!

Q: Which wellness beverages are innovating on social?

A: CBD-infused drinks! (The part of the cannabis plant that doesn’t get you high)

Cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its potential therapeutic pay-offs. It’s reported to squash anxiety and reduce body pain and inflammation. The product’s commercial trajectory is definitely worth following.

In the next three years, the U.S. CBD-infused drinks market will hit about $1.4 billion, according to Zenith Global. That makes it the fastest-growing segment in the soft drink market.

Noteworthy healthy beverages brands in this space include:

Dirty Lemon

This upscale wellness drink company is digitally native, with healthy beverages purchased via text message directly to your doorstep. The company mixes lemon juice with various specialty ingredients, like activated charcoal (for cleansing), ginseng, CBD oil, and, most recently, drinkable retinol (for beauty).

The brand just secured big investments from Coca-Cola and has the thumbs-ups from multiple celebrity influencers. This includes Cardi B who used her rhinestone-glazed fingernails to mix her Dirty Lemon with Patrón Tequila. This is the shit we needed,” the rapper said after an enthusiastic sip.

On September 3, Dirty Lemon saw the video light! The drink brand posted an image to Instagram that read “this is the end of still photos.” Welcome to the matrix, guys. 

Since then, the brand has launched three original video programs. The hook? Dirty lemon takes on dirty topics.

The shows draw specifically on viewers to contribute to content and have a total radio-studio aesthetic. (Think mics, headphones, and lots of cross-talk).

Dirty Secrets explores more urgent matters. The brand’s opinion show In or Out gushes about all things trending like Miley Cyrus’s active abs. Finally, the brand’s newly-minted dating show 7 minutes in heaven helps viewers make love… out of lemons.

It will be great to follow the data-informed decisions this healthy drinks brand, and others foraying into video, make in the coming months.


Recess — it’s sparkling water infused with blackberry, peach, or pomegranate (for flavor), hemp extract (10 milligrams of CBD to calm the mind), ginseng (for focus), and l-theanine (for a brighter mood).

Aptly named, the U.S.-based wellness beverage company encourages you to take a recess from life (trips to the coffee machine don’t count, folks). Recess has avoided traditional advertising, leaning heavily on word-of-mouth and Instagram for its online and store sales.

Essentially, Recess’s video content all has an identifiable neon pink-purple glow. And it’s all just so… unexpected.

Each video is a snappy, sensory burst of sounds or insight. One video series explores how to pronounce words like ginger, offering answers that are painfully wrong (a nod to today’s post-factual reality?).

Other videos can only be described as snack-sized ASMR experiences. ASMR is a longstanding phenomenon on social video, where creators play gentle sounds that provoke tingling and calming feelings in their viewers.

You delight, for example, in the sound of cutting hair. Other ASMR experiences turn your social media escape into a philosophical encounter. What are we scrolling for, for example, is straight-up Brechtian.

This is only the beginning. “In the future, we will also go much deeper into content,” Recess founder and CEO Ben Witte told CNBC. “Think of us as more of a media company,” he said.

That’s exactly the right thinking for brands, in general. If they wish to retain cultural relevance and expand their share of voice, they need to adapt to audience preferences by becoming storytellers first in today’s competitive content marketplace.

Brands may not have the DNA of a media company yet, but there’s no reason they can’t be successful. After all, they have the messaging chops, and good storytelling nourishes the digital-first world.

Companies can draw on key messages intrinsic to a lifestyle or theme associated with their market to build a niche media publishing arm on their social feeds.

This strategy build begins with a simple question: What is the promise of your product? Brands can then harness video to deliver on their products’ promises.


It’s a CBD-infused sparkling drink with zero-calorie options and 20 milligrams of CBD, sold online and in retailers across the United States. The company also has THC-infused sodas (the kind that does get you high).

The brand’s video content is still lean. Most videos are GIFs of the drink can in a neon wonderland or creative re-posts from other Instagram accounts that reflect the bright and celebratory feel of the beverage. Clearly there’s an exciting opening here. Will Sprig, too, enter the video matrix?

Sprig’s video data thus far suggest a cooking collab may resonate well with audiences! The brand’s most-engaged video to date is a shot of Sprig being made into ice cubes:

And the brand’s color palette and Insta models would make for some kick-ass beauty tutorials and influencer collabs. (These tips from Benefit can help any brands looking to dive into the beauty space.)

Healthy Beverages with Ingredients You Can Actually Pronounce

Sixty-seven percent of Americans say they prioritize healthy food purchases, according to a recent Nielsen report.

When it comes to wellness beverages, that means low-sugar, organic, probiotic-rich, and packed with ingredients they can actually pronounce.

Noteworthy brands picking up the healthy drinks baton include:

Fuze Tea

This Coca-Cola-owned iced tea beverage is sweetened with stevia and fruit juice extracts. It’s part of the beverage giant’s plan to diversify beyond soft drinks.

The healthy drinks brand has recently expanded its footprint in Europe, modifying its offerings to meet European tastes with the introduction of Black Tea Peach Hibiscus and Green Tea Mango Chamomile.

Fuze Tea was the #21 most-viewed beverage brand in September across platforms, according to Tubular’s leaderboards. Its videos have a global target and are available in multiple languages.

The brand’s messaging: Sometimes you need “a minute of calm.” Or, as one of its recent top-performing videos said, “el mundo puede esperar” (the world can wait.)

This message, in particular, resonated hardcore in the Spanish-language market, earning 4.3M Facebook views and 46.3K engagements.

La vida es así, un poco online y un poco offline. fuze tea, el mundo puede esperar ????????????

La vida es así, un poco online y un poco offline. fuze tea, el mundo puede esperar. ????????????

Posted by FUZE TEA on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

To deliver on the brand’s promise of serenity, Fuze Tea has embraced ASMR content. The total views for ASMR branded video has skyrocketed in the past year!

Read More: How Gucci, Michelob beer, and Ikea leveraged ASMR in their high-performing video channels

Fuze Tea is definitely hip to this trend. The brand collaborated with the UK’s reigning ASMR queen Emma Smith to sponsor a video in which she slices mango and delicately unboxes Fuze tea.

The healthy drinks company also sponsored a podcast called Mind Tingles, where Emma interviews people about what they do with their me-time. The audio is, of course, glazed with sultry sound effects, perfectly positioned to calm your commute.

And the brand helped create a museum experience where people could collectively ASMR-out to Emma’s videos. (I get tingles just thinking about it).

The ASMR Experience Rooms w/Fuze Tea

Can you tell this is a little overwhelming? ???????? I hope everyone who comes down today or tomorrow has an amazing time. I didn’t show you the spaces in too much detail, especially the Spa pods so it can be a surprise for those coming along. I did take plenty of vlog footage though. Thank you so much to everyone at Fuze Tea Great Britain it’s been an absolute gift to have the freedom to put these little dreams into reality ???????? I’m feeling very grateful today for ASMR, for our community and for such a wonderful reception with the press. I’m off now so everyone can enjoy the space in their own time. Enjoy! And please tag me in your pictures so I can see you here! With love as always ???????? #takeamoment #fuzeteagb #asmr #asmrlive #asmrhappens #ad

Posted by WhispersRed ASMR on Friday, November 9, 2018

GT Living

GT Living has essentially become a household name. The wellness brand has multiple healthy drinks available on supermarket shelves, including raw Kombucha (rich with probiotics), adaptogenic tea (infused with mushrooms), and the recently-launched aqua kefir line (with a gentler taste profile than kombucha).

The brand has seen a surge in engagements and views in recent months. Let’s look at the data for details.

Firstly, GT Living has embraced user-generated content. Last July, Tubular reported on the winners of the bottle cap challenge, an internet craze where people across the internet… uncrewed bottle caps. The results were super fun to watch.

Magician influencer Zach King published a video of himself creatively unscrewing a Kombucha bottle. The brand quickly scooped it up and re-posted with hearty praise. Note this was not a paid sponsorship.

Also, in May, the brand released a video encouraging viewers to post selfies with a GT Kombucha bottle and the hashtag #infullbloom.

For each selfie, the brand donated $5 to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. A surefire way to engage and inspire viewers is to use your brand to connect them to a social mission larger than your product.

GT Living also devotes video time to explaining the history and benefits of its kombucha. It also helps you deduce if your kombucha is authentic. This is the beverage brand’s most-viewed video ever and clearly resonates with younger consumers.

A reported 76% of millennials will do research to ensure a brand is being authentic in its claims, according to a recent Cone Communications survey. The video also an effective way to remind people that GT’s venture is, at its heart, a family operation with a mission to heal.

Finally, the drink brand is now featuring extraordinary athleticism, like this acrobat duo. This is the secret formula for a beverage company.

In fact, short, intense athlete videos routinely land beverage kingpin Red Bull in the #1 spot on our leaderboards.

Takeaways from Red Bull, The Beverage Video Leader

Healthy drinks brands could surely learn from Red Bull, which is consistently the #1 beverage brand globally across platforms.

The energy drink brand is the king of effective storytelling. Every day, its social video feeds wow viewers with extreme stunts and exercise challenges. Most of its videos have little to do with the energy drink, nor do they reference it directly.

The brand excels in their use of headlines as a framing device to create video memes like running from your problems or brace yourself, you’ve just been added to a group text.

The strategy is reaping returns. When it comes to views, Red Bull is consistently keeping pace with digital-first media publishers.

And the brand is a newsmaker. Red Bull’s storytelling chops are best exemplified by its 2012 Red Bull Stratos jump campaign.

The company sent Felix Baumgartner 128K feet above the earth and captured heart-stopping footage of his record-breaking skydive. But the campaign’s video content stretched far beyond the flagship stunt itself.

“We actually treated it like a movie. We developed a story arc from launch to mission, highlighted all the things that might keep people interested⁠ — risk, danger, scientific engineering qualities — and we worked out a plan to tell that story over a long period of time,” said Christie Poulos, former King Content Global Head of Video, in a Content Marketing Institute video.

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