The carbonated water movement is bubbling up. As consumers seek to quench their thirst with drinks that contain no calories and no sugar, many are choosing to sip on sparkling water that’s refreshing and hydrating.
Fizzy water isn’t something new—it’s been prevalent in European markets for years. But in the U.S., there’s been renewed interest and a consequent surge in growth, particularly in flavors and availability. For instance, in North America, Coca-Cola’s Dasani and smartwater brands have been providing consumers with bottled water for years.
Recently, however, both brands have expanded to include sparkling additions to their portfolio. The extension is yet another example of Coca-Cola’s commitment to providing more low and no-calorie options that satisfy consumers’ tastes.
DASANI Makes Moves in a Growing Space
“I would still call sparkling water a relatively young category in the U.S.,” explains Julie F. Siwemuke, DASANI Brand Manager. “It has gained a lot of traction in recent years and is growing rapidly.” Market research firm Mintel agrees; last year, the company released a report that projected a 75 percent sales growth of the sparkling/mineral water/seltzer segment through 2020.
In 2014, Coca-Cola saw this potential and launched DASANI SPARKLING. The company already had a strong brand with DASANI and by extending the line, Coca-Cola was positioned to appeal to a new consumer base that was interested in flavored, sparkling water.
The brand has moved rapidly since it debuted, including a refresh in its packaging.“There was an opportunity to make our packaging sleeker and appetizing to better reflect the experience,” shares Siwemuke.
The new cans are taller, slimmer and now come in packs of eight—a box size that’s likely to capture a consumer’s eye while perusing the shelves. The decision to sell in packs of eight, rather than the traditional 12 was a direct response to trends DASANI is seeing.
“The sparkling water consumer likes to try a variety of flavors and mix up what they are sipping from day to day,” Siwemuke added.
The smaller packaging size is more favorable for the consumer. They don’t have to commit to a large quantity of one variation and have more opportunity to explore. Around the country, DASANI is also introducing larger, 20-ounce single serving resealable bottles of sparkling water. This choice is designed for those wanting to bring the drink with them to enjoy throughout the day.
A Drink that Appeals to All
DASANI SPARKLING is popular with both men and women, but their penchant for the bubbly comes from different places. For men, they are drinking it for health. “They feel like they are doing something good for themselves when they drink an unsweetened sparkling water,” says Siwemuke. For women, it’s more of a treat. Sparkling water is often seen as a tasty option to add variety to what they have been sipping on all day.
When it comes to flavor innovation, DASANI’s R&D team works closely with flavor houses to find tastes that appeal to consumers. After extensive research and testing, they release those that have the best appeal and fit for the brand. “Flavor variety is really appealing to consumers—they like to have choices,” says Siwemuke. “The goal is to drive trial of DASANI SPARKLING and expand our flavor offerings to include unique, delightful new options that consumers will love.”
A Smart Move for smartwater
Like DASANI, Coca-Cola’s smartwater brand knew that the high demand for carbonated water afforded a great opportunity. “We felt we could expand the occasions where people look to our brand, as well as expand our drinker base,” explains Sarah Tabb, Senior Brand Manager for smartwater.
In 2016, the brand launched smartwater sparkling nationally, in the classic smartwater bottle with a new light blue label and logo design. Like classic smartwater still, smartwater sparkling provides vapor distillation with electrolytes that the brand is known for, but now with added bubbles for a crisp, carbonated taste.
While DASANI competes in the flavored sparkling water category, smartwater will provide consumers with an upscale, unflavored solution. Unsweetened sparkling water sales were up 26 percent in 2016, and smartwater is focused on introducing their new product to this audience. Now expanding its distribution across the U.S., the beverage is building awareness through a full marketing and media campaign that includes traditional media, digital and social, sampling and event sponsorships.
“smartwater still continues to provide everyday hydration and refreshment, whereas smartwater sparkling gives you a little fizz to liven up your drink, in particular as a great pairing with meals,” explains Tabb.
smartwater sparkling launched in three package sizes: the iconic smartwater 1-liter, as well as a 20-ounce single bottle and 20-ounce six-pack for the water lover who wants more. So far the drink has been well received. “Consumers are buying the drink and coming back for more; now we just have to get the bottle to additional shelves and introduce it to new areas of the country,” says Tabb.
As consumers increasingly care and think about hydration, The Coca-Cola Company is bringing more options to fit their needs. “Consumers look to a variety of beverages throughout their day, and there’s a real place in their lives for sparkling water,” explains Siwemuke. “DASANI and smartwater are offering fantastic choices to meet these evolving tastes and needs.”
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