Editor’s note: Ken Roshkoff is president of AMC Global, a market research firm headquartered in Blue Bell, Pa. 

Consumers are making their voices known when it comes to preferences surrounding sustainability, and this is particularly evident in the beverage category. In fact, a trip to your local grocery store beverage aisle could be considered a master class in the influence of sustainability on today’s consumer marketing. From kombucha to cabernets, six-packs and their tamer, no-low counterparts, it would seem there is big business in going green, driven by consumer preferences and governmental regulations. 

But there are subtleties to this movement. For example, in the adult beverage space, we are seeing recyclable cartons, fully recycled and recyclable aluminum cans, and other environmentally friendly pack options. And although consumers in our ongoing behavior study do state that this is important to them, a closer look at this particular category tells a slightly different tale. When we examined sales – and took a deeper dive into consumer habits and heuristics – our study found that, if rated against taste and price, the importance of sustainability in packaging and production of adult beverages falls to a low of about 9% importance. This is an example of how attempts to balance divergent consumer demands can be a trade-off for beverage brands. 

My team’s experiences guiding beverage brand launches has made us aware of the capricious landscape facing products in this category – and the obstacles that can materialize along the way. Heeding the call to impart an aura of sustainability around a product may feel like a no-brainer. However, as we look deeper into the major forces at play, we find a more complicated question, one that demands a hands-on approach throughout product development and beyond. 

So, what is really behind the sustainability trend in beverages? And how can you meet wh...