Nestle is rolling out a line of regional sparkling spring water products in February featuring 10 flavors of natural, unsweetened spring water packaged in cans and plastic bottles, according to Food Navigator-USA. The brands — Arrowhead (West Coast), Deer Park (Mid-Atlantic), Ice Mountain (Midwest), Ozarka (Teas and Southwest), Poland Spring (Northeast) and Zephyrhills (Florida) — are designed to appeal to mainstream shoppers.
The company hopes to double the number of households buying regional sparkling spring water brands by offering them an easy way to switch from soda, juice and other sugary drinks. The company also plans its largest launch ever behind the campaign, with a major focus on TV.
Antonio Sciuto, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Nestle Waters North America, told Food Navigator that there are 38 million households spending $2.5 billion on the its original spring water products. "But the big news is only 7 million of them drink sparkling water, so that leaves 31 million of those consumers as an opportunity for the sparkling category," he said.
Nestle has long dominated the premium sparkling water category with its Perrier and San Pellegrino brands, with National Beverage Corporation's LaCroix sparkling water products behind those in terms of sales. LaCroix's growth has reportedly outpaced the category in recent years, in part because of its clean label, social media outreach and lower price. LaCroix does particularly well with millennials as a more healthy and less-expensive option to soda and regular water.
Even though it dominates premium sparkling water sales, the best way for Nestle to pick up more mainstream shoppers who might not want to shell out for Perrier or San Pellegrino is to debut the regional sparkling waters and market them as appealing and on-trend, but perhaps at a lower price point. Those targeted consumers just might be intrigued as long the product delivers on taste and they find it as reliable and affordable as Nestle's line of regular spring waters.
Besides LaCroix, other Nestle competitors in the sparkling water segment include Coca-Cola, which owns Dasani, Glaceau’s Smartwater, and Ciel, a still water available in Mexico but not widely known in the U.S.
As soda sales have fallen in recent years, interest in sparkling water soared. According to the International Bottled Water Association, nearly two-thirds of adults in a recent poll said that still or sparkling bottled water is among their most preferred beverages, followed by coffee at 62% and regular or diet soft drinks at 58%. This trend pushed growth of the category up 70% between 2011 and 2016, according to Euromonitor International, and put it on pace to hit $3.1 billion in sales by 2022.
As a result, there are countless brands trying to differentiate themselves on crowded store shelves and through online retailers like Amazon. Some manufacturers try to stand out by highlighting where water is sourced, while others rely on unique flavors or bottle design.
Nestle has numerous advantages while rolling out this more mainstream line of regional sparkling spring water products. It has an established reputation, customer knowledge, premium sparkling product experience, marketing expertise and a national distribution channel already in place.