Sparkling Ice crested the fizzy water wave, but will it survive as its luster fades?
- Sparkling Ice, owned by TalkingRain Beverage, has seen sales for its no-calorie, flavored sparkling water line grow from $10 million in 2010 to $667 million in 2016, according to Fortune.
- All of the Sparkling Ice beverages use the artificial sweetener sucralose. As consumers are increasingly interested in "natural" beverage options, this ingredients could be seen as a red flag.
- Last year, TalkingRain Beverage debuted Sparkling Essence. It’s a line of sparkling waters with no artificial sweeteners, artificial colors or preservatives. Marcus Smith, the company’s president, hinted that more products without artificial ingredients are coming.
Sparkling water is the it drink these days. Soda sales have slumped over the last decade, with U.S. soda consumption falling to a 30 year low in 2015. As soda sales fell, interest in sparkling water bubbled up.
Sparkling Ice has experienced tremendous growth just over the course of six years. The challenge now for the company is to keep that momentum going.
Consumers are increasingly interested in products with clean labels that list ingredients they are familiar with and can pronounce. Food and beverage manufacturers are responding by reformulating products and their labels to showcase the lack of artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. This trend could be a challenge for Sparkling Ice, which has other difficult-to-pronounce ingredients in addition to the artificial sweetener.
TalkingRain Beverage has taken a proactive approach. Aside from the free-from Sparkling Essence, the company has also branched out beyond sparkling water to partner with Tata Global Beverage. TalkingRain will start selling Tata Global's Himalayan Natural Mineral Water brand through its network of more than 300 distributors in the U.S.
It would appear that TalkingRain has taken a note from the soda industry and diversified its products when faced with the possibility that its marquee beverage could be losing its luster. When soda sales started to slip and sugary drink taxes started popping up across the country, beverage giants took note. Coca-Cola has minority stakes in Monster energy drinks and Suja cold-pressed juices. Dr Pepper Snapple acquired a minority stake in sports drink startup BodyArmor. If TalkingRain continues to listen to consumers and offers new beverages that meet their changing demands, the company should be able to keep riding the sparkling beverage wave for a while.