03 October 2023
Gen Z and Millennials Are Obsessed with Water: Here's What They're Drinking
4 min read
Brand Insights in 3 Sentences: Today, good hydration habits are believed to be the key to health and beauty, so people are drinking water more now than ever before. With many of them setting goals for how much water they should consume, people are turning to flavored, sparkling and enhanced waters to encourage them to drink more and satisfy their taste buds. This is indicative of a much larger trend of health and wellness amongst a new generation, that even a basic necessity like water has to be altered to meet their needs and desires. 
It's just water.
According to Gen Zs and millennials today, it’s not. In fact, there are so many types of water to choose from, from seltzer water to vitamin water, which are readily available virtually anywhere. People are increasingly replacing flavored or fortified waters over regular water, and are willing to pay a little extra for them.
Searches for flavored and sparkling water have grown at an average rate of 20% over the past year. New brands are also popping up everywhere, but what exactly is driving this rise in popularity? Why are young people drinking so much sparkling water more than ever before?

To answer that question, we must first understand the drinking habits of people today. More than ever, good hydration habits are touted as the key to health, beauty and mental clarity. There’s been some debate over what the recommended amount of water to drink a day is, but the consensus is that there can be no such thing as too much water. H2o = good health.
@angieclone Drinking okra water and say buh bye to reproductive health induced pain, yeast infections, period pain, and even dull skin, these benefits you can see and feel almost immediately especially for period pain. #okrawater #okrawaterbenefits #okrabenefits #holistichydration #wellnesswonders #healthandwellnesslifestyle #reproductivehealth #periodpainremedies ♬ Chopin Nocturne No. 2 Piano Mono - moshimo sound design
As a result, people aren’t just drinking water when they feel they need it. They are drinking water because they feel they have to. People are carrying around giant bottles of water with markers to tell them how much they need to drink, and there’s even various apps that remind and motivate you to drink water throughout your day.

I’m a water tumbler gorl now

♬ original sound - Hannah Lowther
Just a few decades ago, guzzling sugary drinks daily was considered the norm, with sodas even topping the list of America’s favorite beverages. As awareness of the health issues associated with excessive consumption of these drinks grew, people turned towards drinking more water instead. However, for the people used to consuming sweetened drinks, flavored and sparkling water became a great way to make drinking it more enjoyable.
@angieclone Drinking okra water and say buh bye to reproductive health induced pain, yeast infections, period pain, and even dull skin, these benefits you can see and feel almost immediately especially for period pain. #okrawater #okrawaterbenefits #okrabenefits #holistichydration #wellnesswonders #healthandwellnesslifestyle #reproductivehealth #periodpainremedies ♬ Chopin Nocturne No. 2 Piano Mono - moshimo sound design
Popular Sparkling Water Brands
Search Volume (Last 2 Years)
San Pellegrino
Canada Dry
Liquid Death Water
Poland Spring
The recent focus on health and wellness has also led to more young people today to reduce or completely abstain from alcohol consumption, which has led to the rise in the ‘sober curious’ movement. As a result, there has been increasing interest in flavored, sparkling and seltzer as alternatives instead, with companies offering a range of varieties, infusing them with herbs and nourishing botanicals.
This is indicative of a larger health trend where people aren’t just looking to reduce sugar consumption by drinking water, but also to drink water that’s fortified. Types of fortified water might include vitamins and minerals, electrolytes, amino acids, with the goal of improving overall health or targeting a particular issue. Coca Cola’s Smartwater has a line of water, named smartwater+, that infuses ingredients like ashwagandha, ginseng and green tea to promote mental wellness. While Pepsi’s Driftwell helps consumers unwind before bed with water infused with lavendar, 200 milligrams of L-theanine and 10% DV magnesium.
@emotionalindividual Psychedelic water is not what you think! ❌drugs ❌alcohol It’s an herbal supplement infused with Kava Kava and Damiana leaf extracts. Both plants are believed to induce relaxation, warm and happy feelings, and to relieve stress. While these statements are not backed by science, they do say that placebo effect works😎 So why not try it? Curious? Check them out @psychedelicwater #sobercurious #nonalcoholicdrink #psychedelicwater ♬ Call me - 90sFlav

Let me know if you tried this recess drink before! It has adaptogens and a bunch of herbs 🌿

♬ original sound - Makeupjackyluvv
While drinking more water does seem like an all-round positive thing, it’s actually become a pretty divisive topic on social media platforms, especially TikTok. Flavored water has become so popular that its hashtag #WaterTok has over 780 million views. The origins of #WaterTok can be traced to bariatric patients who needed to make their water intake more interesting while on pre- and post-surgery liquid diets for a few days, but its since grown beyond their intended audience and taken on a life of its own.

Content creators post videos of themselves mixing colorful concoctions of water, ice and then various packets of powdered flavorings and syrup in tumblers to create flavored water like “birthday cake” and “green apple mermaid.” This ‘water’ is sometimes added with so many ingredients that viewers have joked that the creators have “just made juice.” While this might seem like it’s a good substitute to drinking soda, some people are concerned about the impact all these artificial sweeteners and additives might have on drinkers’ bodies, especially on gut health and tooth enamel.
Skeptics of WaterTok are also concerned that the trend-ification of reaching a “water goal” and the focus on being ‘sugar and calorie free’ lumps the idea of calorie restriction with a healthy lifestyle. Watching calories is most directly correlated with weight loss, but it’s not a representation of health as a whole. Therefore, experts worry that this mentality might promote dangerous eating habits, or even a disorder. 

While we never thought something as basic as water could be so divisive, it’s extremely interesting to note the changing drinking habits of different generations, and the evolution of the commodification of water consumption and how companies continue to keep up and cash in.
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