The company’s portfolio to date has focused on flavour (Sumatra Dragonfruit, Ipanema Pomegranate and Tanzania Lemonade Tea to name but a few). But Antiwater is stepping away from bold flavours and appealing to a category of ‘healthy purists’ who instead want water and pure hydration.
While it sees functional hydration as the ‘holy grail’ for bottled water, it warns the lengthy development of Antiwater shows such beverages takes time, investment, and commitment.
Bai Brands’ existing portfolio is built on its antioxidant claims, with Bai5 and Bai5 Bubbles containing coffeefruit extract as a source of antioxidants. Now, it has launched Antiwater to expand into the bottled water category.
Antiwater is ‘infused with distinctive antioxidant power and enhanced with electrolytes for a crisp, clean taste’, saying it represents the next generation of hydration – what it calls H2.0.
Carla O’Brien of Bai Brands told BeverageDaily.com this launch will cater for demand from ‘healthy purists’ – those for whom hydration and health are more important than flavor.
“Our target market for Bai Antiwater is similar to our target market for other Bai beverages in many ways. We like to refer to them as the conscious authentics. They are passionate about flavor and health and they seek added benefits and natural ingredients. They prefer complex ‘adult’ flavors and are socially conscious.
“The great thing about Bai Antiwater, though, is it also allows us to migrate a bit to another market we refer to as healthy purists. This target market prefers health over flavor and prefers water to any other beverage. Both these target markets are filled with millennial consumers.”
Launched in 2009, Bai Brands has grown rapidly and is aiming for revenues of $100m in 2015. It is distributed by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, who also invested in a minority stake earlier this year.
- Bai5, Bai5 Bubbles (carbonated) and Antiwater. Bai5 uses natural flavors, sweeteners and colors in a 5 calorie drink.
- Launched in 2009 in Princeton, NJ, by Ben Weiss. Revenues of $5.2m in 2012; $17m in 2013, and target of $100m for 2015.
- Obtained national distribution in 2014 through an agreement with Dr Pepper Snapple.
- 'Bai' is the Mandarin Chinese word for 'pure.'
Antiwater is purified twice and then enhanced with electrolytes and antioxidants (antioxidants protect cells from damage from free radicals). While intense exercise has many benefits, it also is believed to speed up production of such free radicals, putting the body under oxidative stress.
Asked what Antiwater actually tastes like, O’Brien said it’s “what you expect water to taste like: pure clean and refreshing.”
“We are the first to admit the world doesn't need another bottled water,” she said. “Though, we do believe Bai Antiwater is the perfect extension of the Bai Brand because we are confident in taking our innovation with antioxidant infusion into every category.
"The bottled water consumer is not looking for bold flavors, rather just pure hydration. Bai Antiwater creates hydration with a purpose, adding the functional benefit of antioxidant infusion to the bottled water category.”
‘We spent years perfecting how to make coffee fruit tasteless’
However, expanding the portfolio to water was not plain sailing, O’Brien warns. She adds this is a challenge the category will continue to face.
“Honestly, it took years for us to develop Bai Antiwater,” she said. “With water, you can't hide any off notes because it is clear and transparent with no strong flavor. As a company that prides ourselves on innovation, we spent years perfecting how to make the coffee fruit odorless and tasteless since it doesn't start off that way.”
Due to such flavor challenges, the level of antioxidants in Antiwater does not meet that of other Bai beverages. However, the point is to compare Antiwater to other beverages in the bottled water category, said O’Brien.
“Measuring the antioxidant content in base Bai beverages versus Antiwater is like comparing apples to oranges,” she said. “Antiwater will never compare to the same levels of antioxidants as other Bai beverages, which come with full flavor, but compare Antiwater to every other bottled water out there and there is no comparison.
“The only way we could add a functional benefit like antioxidants to water was through our aseptic flash sterilization process which no other bottled waters out there are doing.”
Where does O’Brien see the category going next?
“The holy grail in bottled water is achieving functional hydration,” she said. “It would be in the best interest of the consumer if competition follows our lead. However, it takes a heavy commitment and investment to formulate functional waters. We look forward to seeing where this category will go next!”