Water is no longer for thirst. Water today must satiate, beautify, immunize, invigorate, sharpen and protect against aging.
Note to Marketing
With 31 percent growth in the first half of 2007, enhanced waters are flowing briskly in the functional beverage market. Both fortified and flavored waters soaked up $1.4 billion in 2006, and are projected to draw $3.5 billion in 2011, according to Gary Hemphill, managing director of Beverage Marketing Corp., New York. Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst at Mintel, Chicago, adds enhanced bottled water consumption is highest among consumers aged 18-34 and in households with children.
Legacy industry brands, such as Coca-Cola, Cadbury-Schweppes and PepsiCo, excel at purveying continuous pipelines of tried-and-true branding, while actively developing value-added waters to their networks. Such waters are a big part of the performance-beverage phenomenon, which crosses category lines as it caters to a wide range of consumers with a number of unique needs.
Unlike the energy drinks and sports drinks categories, performance beverages are blurring category lines with “vitamin,” “mineral,” “antioxidant,” “natural flavor,” contents as the leading claims followed by "low/no/reduced calories," "low/no/reduced sugar," "low/no/reduced carbohydrates," “no artificial additives or preservatives” and "organic" labels to justify hefty margins.
But the smaller, pioneer companies showed the greatest strength and coordination in bringing about the flood of boutique waters. So much so the big guys went on a boutique water buying spree in 2006-2007, with Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. buying enhanced-water groundbreaker Glacéau, Whitestone, N.Y., (maker of Vitaminwater, Smartwater and Fruitwater) for an eye-popping $4.1 billion last year.
This followed Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo.’s acquisition of SoBe Life Water. Coke already had its own Dasani water brand and Pepsi also had created both Aquafina and Propel. Plano, Texas-based Cadbury Schweppes Plc bought Snapple, which released its Antioxidant Water line in late 2007.
I’ll Have Mine ‘Without’
Smaller counterparts still are demonstrating agility and ability to rapidly innovate to cater to emerging consumer needs. This, especially since organic and natural claims have shifted the category's priorities in 2007. Vital Lifewater, Calgary, Alberta, rides the cutting-edge of flavor trends with combinations such as aloe and starfruit, guava and chamomile plus the newly trendy dragonfruit and the superfruit superstar açai.
At under 40 calories per 20-oz. bottle, and with names such as Vitality, Calm, Energy and Burn, Vital Lifewaters are laced with such nutraceuticals as carnitine, chromium and taurine as well as the botanicals gotu kola, lemon balm and passion flower. All have B vitamins and one – Burn – has inositol and caffeine.
A natural touch
Another “north of the border” company, Vancouver, B.C.-based Clearly Canadian Brands, markets its Dailyvitamin, Dailyenergy and Dailyhydration as the only certified organic “essence” waters. Subtle hints of organic lemon or orange provide flavor without sweeteners. Modest amounts of fructose, malic acid, ascorbic acid and fruit aromatics in Dailyvitamin artfully override the bitter taste of the B vitamins and magnesium at just 25 calories per 20-oz. bottle.
Twist water, from Talking Rain, Seattle, features a “twist” of pure fruit juice and fruit essences in artesian water. With no sweeteners, preservatives or artificial ingredients, the eight flavors of Twist are formulated to provide just a hint of their fruit flavors.
Botanicals are just as strong on this side of the border. Philadelphia-based Ayala Inc.’s Herbal Water infuses herb-derived flavors and beneficial compounds without calories, artificial additives or preservatives. The products target refreshment and benefits to an educated consumer group. Not blatantly spelling out specific health benefits allows for the premium appeal of flavor combos such as clove-cinnamon-cardamom, cinnamon-orange peel, lavender-mint-lemongrass-thyme, lemongrass-mint-vanilla, ginger-lemon peel and jasmine-vanilla.
Enhanced waters are far from simple concoctions. The category demands superb knowledge of ingredients and technologies to ensure color and flavor retention for maximum enjoyment. Ram Chaudhari, chief science officer
Watering the Kids
at Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y., stresses the increasing sophistication of consumers.
Glaceau incorporates self-affirmed GRAS ingredients to distilled, deionized and/or reverse osmosis water to create vitaminwater Revive (vitamin B and potassium), Focus (vitamin A and lutein), and B-Relaxed – (vitamin B and theanine). Smartwater uses its electrolyte formulation as a marketing tool without detailing any functionality. Natural flavors and lower amounts of crystalline fructose position Fruitwater as an all-natural, low-calorie water.
O Beverages, Cambridge, Mass., flavored purified water with fruit essence in its O Water and added cane sugar to O Infused Water to counter consumer complaints of beverages being too sweet and artificial-tasting. Healthy Hydration LLC, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., built on this concept by infusing USDA-certified organic nutraceuticals in vapor-distilled water to produce WaterPlus Organic flavored water beverages with 50 calories per 8-oz. serving.
Negative consumer perception of corn syrup, erroneous or not (click to The Devil and High-Fructose Syrup), has driven a reformulation trend that favors crystalline fructose or good old sugar, badged as “evaporated cane juice” or, for the more straightforward marketers, “pure cane sugar.”
Aquafina Alive Energy and Immunity were formulated with new sweeteners and ingredients for debut this year. SoBe Life Water with crystalline fructose and herbs uses sodium salts to help round the flavor while qualifying for a “very low in sodium” claim. Women, conscious of bone health, helped Propel Calcium grow at an annual rate of more than 80 percent. Propel’s Invigorating Water is low calorie with 20mg of caffeine and B vitamins. Twinlab Corp./IdeaSphere Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., a manufacturer of vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals, offers its TwinCal waters. They contain 60mg of calcium in each bottle.
“Mineral solubility techniques are driving the incorporation of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium in water,” says Amr Shaheed, head of technical service/beverages at Innophos Inc., Cranbury, N.J. “A hypotonic solution with lower concentrations of electrolytes than the body cells crosses the concentration gradient to hydrate dehydrating cells at a faster rate than isotonics, which hydrate more slowly.” Hydration is a key seller in health and beauty.
Waves of the future
Beyond flavorings and vitamins is the uberfunctional water, featuring naturally based functional chemical compounds or proteins and their fractions. These waters are designed for a more aggressive functionality – usually endurance or weight loss.
Soluble proteins and amino acids are purported to be good for endurance, weight management and muscle recovery. Ingredients such as PeptoPro casein hydrolysate, by DSM Food Specialties, Parsippany, N.J., allow for dissolution and rapid absorption of peptides in beverage solutions.
Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co.’s Special K2O Protein Water delivers 5g of protein per 16-oz. bottle, and at only 50 calories. Special K2O Protein Water Mix is designed to help consumers with water consumption and weight management, and take the edge off hunger. Skinny Nutritional Corp., Bala Cynwyd, Pa., added guarana to its flavored fitness water. Guarana is said to improve cognition and enhance fat-cell reduction.
Weight management is an obvious target for enhanced waters. TrimWater from Lifestyle Beverage Co., Garden City, N.Y., claims to help balance weight loss and maintain energy. It includes 200mg hydroxycitric acid to suppress appetite, 22mcg chromium picolinate to help manage energy and 20mg of the anti-inflammatory glucosamine hydrochloride to help modulate blood glucose. Crystalline fructose and acesulfame-K add sweetness with fewer calories.
Darmstadt, Germany-based Aquanova allows for fortification with vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid – potent and versatile nutraceuticals with limited application until recently. Long established among consumers and health experts, these were hindered by solubility issues. Lipoic acid, a physiological antioxidant, is popular for its role in energy metabolism, its protective effect against diabetes and recently as an “anti-aging nutrient.”
Water-soluble formulations of fat-soluble compounds are clinically proven to enhance bioavailability significantly over the conventional dispersions in oil; they also make it more palatable.