Nestlé expands its footprint in sparkling water category with brand targeting mainstream shoppers

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé expands its footprint in sparkling water category with brand targeting mainstream shoppers
After dominating the premium end of the sparkling water category with Perrier and S.Pellegrino, Nestlé Waters North America is going after the mainstream shopper, and an even larger share of the fast-growing segment, with the launch of new and updated sparkling Regional Spring Water brands.

Beginning in February, newly designed plastic bottles in various sizes and 12-ounce cans of unsweetened natural spring water in 10 natural flavors under the Poland Spring, Deer Park, Zephyrhills, Ozarka, Ice Mountain and Arrowhead will start hitting store shelves.

The launch comes at a time when consumers can’t seem to get enough sparkling water – helping to drive up the category 70% from 2011 to 2016 and placing it on a trajectory to reach $3.1 billion by 2022, according to Euromonitor International.

With so much money on the line, the category has become increasingly crowded with multiple high level players operating in the space, and even more small and medium competitors. Yet, Antonio Sciuto, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Nestlé Waters North America, is confident that the company’s natural spring water will stand out from the pack and make a big splash.

“We have a unique competitive advantage that is natural spring water with natural fruit flavor that is really just refreshingly real because it has very simple ingredients and represents something that we are proud to bring to the category,”​ Sciuto told FoodNavigator-USA.

He also predicts “this launch can really disrupt and lead to explosive growth in the sparkling water category because within our regional spring water brands we have 38 million households to which our franchise delivers $2.5 billion in sales that are attached to our original spring water business. But the big news is only 7 million of them drink sparking water, so that leaves 31 million of those consumers as an opportunity for the sparkling category.”

As such, he adds, Nestlé Waters hopes to nearly double the number of Regional Spring Water Sparkling households by 2020 as compared to the number of households in 2016.

Sciuto explains that Nestlé will be able to win over these consumers in a way that other products have not because “they have been waiting for a brands they trust, the brands they love, in order to bring a unique proposition to facilitate their migration from sugary drinks, from soda and juice, and offering other solutions that they can drink on a daily basis.”

New packaging and choices

A key part of Nestlé’s strategy to achieve its ambitious goal is making sure it offers a broad portfolio of products that “reach consumers in different need states and consumption occasions,”​ Sciuto said.

The company is offering not only a wide range of naturally flavored sparkling waters, but multiple different package types and sizes.

“Ten out of 10 consumers are loyal to a specific packaging format that can be glass, plastic or cans, but only 24% of them are choosing cans as their preferred format. According with that, you can imagine, there is a really big opportunity by offering to those consumers a wide range of packaging offerings – not just plastic and cans, but also a variety of sizes that will meet different consumption occasions: small bottles, large bottles and cans,”​ he said, adding, “this lineup is going to meet all of that.”

In addition, he says, Nestlé Waters “has been continuously optimizing the design on the bottles and now we are bringing to the market something that is pretty unique and a fresh look that is clean and … and will offer a very unique experience in terms of usability.”

Indeed, with the relaunch, Nestlé is ditching its longstanding plastic bottle design with a long thin neck and almost bulbous body in favor of a bottle that is a more uniform cylinder with a slight indentation in the middle for a comfortable fit in consumers’ hands.

The new proprietary bottle also features stylized facets that the company says highlight the movement of sparkling bubbles, a colored cap to reinforce brand equity and distinguish the bottle from competitors and colorful illustrations that will help consumers quickly identify the product’s flavor.

With such dramatic changes, the company recognized the importance of maintaining a similar logo and brand name design as on the old packages. Therefore, the brand name will have the same font and layout, even as it is nestled in a broader design that is different.

“The new bottle is something we are really proud of,”​ Sciuto said. “The old bottle is not something we are really proud of, it is a bottle that is in the marketplace and it is not unique to our brand. It is something that consumers … are used to, but it is not something that is a point of difference or a plus. And we are confidence that what we are bringing to the marketplace is consistent in terms of brand images and consistent with the still water, but also is really adding a fresh look that will be great for the consumer.”

A broad marketing campaign

To further support the transition and ensure consumers understand that while the look has changed, the quality they expect from Nestlé is still the same, the company will launch a broad, full-scale marketing campaign, Scuito said.

“This launch is a record for Nestlé in America and it will be the biggest launch ever. This is why the organization leads this launch with a 360 degree campaign that will go across all touch points,” ​he explained.

“We are launching to TV in a big way as part of the activation. We are recognized in the industry tolead on digital, but this time the campaign will go above and beyond with a big push on TV. … You will see this product everywhere!”​ he said.

“At the end of the day,”​ Scuito said, he will consider the launch a success if “consumer preference is spiking and consumer sentiment is there. Obviously, the business results will follow if we achieve this with the consumer.”

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