Enhanced Waters Mean Instant Nutrition To Consumers

Enhanced waters are the preferred choice of consumers seeking nutrition and wellness in an instant format.

By Kantha Shelke, Ph.D.

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Water is no longer for thirst. Water today must satiate, beautify, immunize, invigorate, sharpen and protect against aging.


Note to Marketing

The evolution of enhanced waters represents both opportunities and risks for those in the beverage industry. For instance, invigoration, hydration and emerging calorie-free sweeteners are a competitive risk to traditional energy drinks and water. Among the opportunities are a shift towards premium, "green" and organic products. There also are targeting strategies involving consumer life-stage, needs and attitudes along with time of day and location. Clear communication of the value to the various need states is key to succeeding in this market.

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’

Purity is a particularly critical attribute for bottled water consumers. “Consumer’s tastes have become more discerning and they’re demanding not only higher quality products but from companies whose environmental or green policies align with their own,” says Kristjan Olafsson, general manager of Icelandic Water Holdings, Reykjavik, Iceland, makers of Icelandic Glacial water.

 Icelandic Glacial produces what it markets as one of the purest waters on the market and claims to be the only “Certified Carbon-Neutral” bottled water in the U.S. With less than 100 total dissolved solids, it is tapped from the legendary Ölfus spring – a naturally replenished catchment zone renowned for pristine pollution-free surroundings.

 Jeff Moats, a former pioneer of the chocolate analog cupuaçu, was introduced to an aquifer formed billions of years ago and made of solid rose quartz existing below the world’s largest remaining expanse of undisturbed tropical rainforest in Brazil. He soon created Equa Water Corp., based in Naples, Fla., to deliver one of the purest waters available in the world.

 Bio-Hydration Research Lab Inc. (), Carlsbad, Calif., opts for purity via technology, specifically a state-of-the-art 13-step, 11-hour patented purification process to create an ultrapure drinking water with less than 0.5 ppm of total dissolved solids.

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.

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