A few days ago while mindlessly scrolling Instagram I got an ad for a new sparkling water that I had never heard of: AHA Sparkling Water. It had bold colors, and fairly minimal design, a slight derivation from the all encompassing millennial and Instagram friendly aesthetic but enough to let you know it’s a hip cool, new brand.
Well, sort of. It’s being launched by Coca-Cola and isn’t some indie start up that the branding and marketing would have you believe. Which is a bit odd as to why Coke would go in on developing and building a completely new brand. In fact Coca-Cola already has two other sparkling water brands in Dasani Sparkling and Topo Chico, which has it’s own cult following and also coincidentally just launched in Mexico City with billboards everywhere that I see daily. The CEO of Coke is kicking himself in the old tooter for not launching their own new brand sooner because of how much the industry has progressed in just the past few years.
Spindrift, another popular up and coming sparkling water brand that uses “real fruit” was also in the news this week because they just raised $30 MILLION DOLLARS ($29.8M to be exact, but I’ll spot them the $200k).
LaCroix, is a publicly traded company and was at once the hipster and bougie seltzer choice alike long before sparkling water become the multibillion dollar industry it is now. LaCroix’s stock is about a third of what it was in mid-2018, which was shortly after Pepsi’s Bubly hit the scene. And let’s not forget the pinky-lifting brands of Perrier and San Pelligrino. Or the super OGs of Canada Dry and Schweppes. Or the old school cool branding of Polar and Hal’s. Also, pretty much every major water brand has their own sparkling water as well: the aforementioned Dasani, Poland Spring, Deer Park and others. There’s weird lesser known brands like Klarbrunn which won this taste test or Waterloo Sprakling Water which features some old-timey branding and apparently bold flavors. Then there’s in house brands like Kirkland or Trader Joe’s as well. Plus there’s a bajillion more that are small time, or I just didn’t mention because I got tired of mentioning brands. Isn’t the above enough for you people?!?
It makes sense that Coca-Cola is getting in the game now due to the value on the industry that is only going to grow as soft drinks continue to be replaced by healthier alternatives, because, surprise, people are realizing that soda ain’t great for the waistline or other things such as living your life.
However, do we really need another sparkling water? Especially one run by a huge brand? I mean I haven’t tried it yet. So maybe. Maybe it will blow my pantaloons off and I’ll drink nothing but AHA for the next year of my life and be burping frequently from all the bubblies in my tummy. More likely though, I’ll try it, be non-plussed and drink it whenever it’s the sparkling water option available to me and I’m in the mood for sparkling water. And even more likely than that is that Coca-Cola will throw a shitload of money at viral marketing campaigns across social media to try and make it cool and create a viral effect that will include cringey memes posted to their social media pages. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. Websites will try it out and write about it, a handful of people will become OMG OBSESSED with it and most other people will just drink it when they happen to drink it.
The point is that, hot damn, there are a lot of seltzers out there and they generally all taste the same. That’s not unique to the seltzer field though. Most startup products out there are facing stiff competition and nearly becoming commodities: everything from mattresses to razors to yoga pants are failing due to competitions, massive investment/expectations and difficulty scaling. These brands try to differentiate themselves by their ethos and vibe more so than their product. Convincing you need to buy the same thing as people like you or even more so, people you want to be like because they’re all basically the same products at the end of the day. Just. Like. Seltzers.
But even so do ethos and vibe really matter when it comes to sparkling water? Who gives a damn what type of sparkling water you drink? Why is this shit we care about? Shouldn’t we just stay hydrated and worry about actual important things? I’m ranting now and that is all. Good day.
Oh, and spiked seltzer is a farce. White Claw sucks ass. At me.
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