AquaBall CEO: We have the ability to have 5% of the kids beverage market within 18 months

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

AquaBall CEO: We have the ability to have 5% of the kids beverage market within 18 months

Related tags Marketing

After 18 months of rapid growth and a summer of reflection, True Drinks is ready to accelerate growth for its AquaBall product with an expansion to new international markets, and an advertising campaign calling out its ‘sugar-saturated’ competitors.

True Drinks launched its zero-calorie line of naturally flavored and sweetened vitamin waters in distinctive ball-shaped bottles emblazoned with Disney and Marvel characters during the first quarter of 2013, having identified an opportunity in the $1.2 billion kids’ beverage market dominated by brands like CapriSun, Kool-Aid, and BellyWashers. (Capri Sun is the clear leader in this industry, with nearly 50% market share.)

“The goal was to be the first to market with the healthiest children’s beverage on the market,”​ said Lance Leonard, the company’s CEO and a former director of global customers for Nestle Waters.

“We expected to spend most of 2013 building the infrastructure, supply chain, the route to market, and the messaging for consumers. In fact, as we took the product out to the retailers the response was incredible. The children’s drinks market has been stagnant, and then we arrived with unusual packaging, partnerships with Disney and Marvel, and the healthiest children’s beverage on the market.

“It took off much faster than we thought.”

From 1.5% to 5%...

The summer has been a period of reflection for the company. “We wanted to take a step back and ask what it would really take to accelerate this further,”​ said Leonard, which led the company to two conclusions: Firstly, they needed to take advantage of their first mover status, and secondly, childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes are not limited to the US, with worrying statistics in LATAM and China and many other markets. The summer has been spent developing multiple markets outside the US, he said.

Closer to home, and the AquaBalls growth continues impressively. In April, the company’s chief marketing officer told us​ that AquaBall had gained authorization in more than 25,000 grocery, drug, mass and club stores from Safeway and Kroger, to Rite Aid, Albertson’s and ShopRite. Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA this week, Leonard said that the company has since expanded into Walmart and Sam’s Club with a “best in class packaging for the club channel”.

“We have about 1.5% market share right now,” ​he said. “We’re aiming to get to 5% in the next 18-24 months, and we think we have the ability to do that, but it takes good relationships.”

The company certainly has those in place both on the retail side, and with Disney and Marvel. “We have two stakeholders to market to: The child and the parent,”​ said Leonard. “The partnerships with Marvel and Disney allow us to quickly connect with the young consumers. We can make it collectable by linking to the newest movie. The child sees the label and wants it. The parents look at the product, what’s in it, and think it’s great.”

The company has begun to see some more ‘healthy’ products launch into the children’s beverage sector over the past three to four months, he said, like Honest Kids and the Vita Coco Kids pack, which still have calories. “But we very vocally claim we’re the best option for your kids.”

New campaign

The company launched a new campaign this week to show the amount of sugar children consume via beverages each year. A total of 12 videos are being produced as part of a digital marketing campaign, which the company hopes to create enough awareness around to then build out to the mainstream media. (The video below already has 38,000 hits on YouTube)  

“We’re hoping our video campaign will not only act as a wake-up call to parents to more closely monitor sugar content, but spur an overall industry shift in the overuse of caloric sweeteners,”​ he said.

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