The brainchild of former Glaceau (vitaminwater) COO Dr Carol Dollard and Glaceau CFO Michael Venuti, agua enervivá was launched in the New York metro area in 2012 but is now rolling out to a far wider audience following a brand and packaging refresh in early 2014 that saw it move into a slimmer bottle with a cleaner design emphasizing ‘natural energy hydration’.
Designed to straddle the energy, sports, and enhanced water categories, each 8oz serving contains 10 calories, 100mg of ‘natural’ caffeine from guarana extract, electrolytes from sodium chloride and potassium citrate, and the kind of fruity flavors you’d expect from Hispanic-inspired agua fresca beverages.
Category managers and buyers have really embraced the brand
While the products - which come in Tea and Lemonade, Orange Passion and Pomegranate Acai flavors - are sweetened with cane sugar and sucralose (which delivered a superior taste to high intensity natural sweeteners such as stevia, said Dr Dollard), they contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
The target audience is 18-34 year olds of both sexes looking for a caffeine hit and a cleaner label at an affordable price (MRSP $1.39 for a 20oz bottle), said Dr Dollard, who was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after securing the go-ahead for a national rollout at Target, which will introduce agua enervivá to 920 stores in late October.
“We’re also doing really well in gyms, Fairway Market, and mass grocery retailers in the New York metropolitan region, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and upstate Connecticut. Category managers and buyers have really embraced the brand and they like what we’ve been able to do with it in a short period of time without a whole lot of money. Energy water is a new category and we’re really leading the charge.
“We’re seeing consumers who want energy and refreshment and a fresh taste without the calories or the sugar. Our consumer is the ‘everyday achiever’ that wants great-taste and wants to live life to the fullest.”
agua enerviva brand could be a $100m national brand
But is agua enerviva the next vitaminwater or Sparkling ICE, and how big could the 'energy water' category become?
Early signs are encouraging, claimed Dr Dollard, who said the deal with Target would soon give the brand a national presence.
“Could agua enervivá get to $100m? Absolutely. I’m not sure how fast we can do it, but I think we can get their faster than we did with vitaminwater.”
agua enerviva ticks three key boxes: hydration, refreshment and functionality, says Euromonitor
So what do market watchers make of the brand?
Euromonitor International beverages analyst Jonas Feliciano is optimistic given that agua enerviva ticks the hydration, refreshment and functionality boxes - and while Dollard denies she is going after the same demographic - he says the new slimmer packaging and colorful bottles will remind shoppers of Sparkling ICE, which has been hugely successful.
"It’s on trend," he adds.
As for consumers, although big fans of Red Bull and Monster original may not switch to energy waters, agua enerviva‘s 'naturally energizing’ message, fruity flavors and low calorie positioning would likely appeal to many shoppers that have historically been big drinkers of diet carbonates but are increasingly looking for something perceived to be healthier, he says.
And while functional waters such as vitaminwater were designed to appeal to this demographic, he says, "I think there was a backlash against vitaminwater because it was making all these claims but people looked at the sugar content and said this is not healthy.”
And as for ‘natural energy’, he says, while much of the growth in the energy drinks category is still being driven by Red Bull original and the core ‘green’ Monster Energy line, it’s no secret that manufacturers are looking at more ‘natural’ sources of caffeine such as guarana berries of guayusa or other ingredients that deliver energy without using caffeine at all.
(Click HERE to read about PepsiCo’s recent patent application in this area).
Monster is also preparing to launch a non-caffeinated energy drink called Monster Unleaded this year, he notes. (According to Monster CEO Rodney Sacks, 'Unleaded' has been designed to appeal to “consumers who until now were not consumers of energy drinks” or “would like to limit their daily consumption of caffeine but wish to increase the consumption of Monster, particularly later in the day or early evening”.)