PepsiCo extends reach, usage of sparkling water brand bubly, SodaStream with new bubly drops

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pepsico, Bubly, Sodastream, Sparkling water

PepsiCo is driving incremental growth for two of its hottest brands by bringing together flavored sparkling water bubly and at home water carbonation platform SodaStream to launch a line of bubly drops that will hit store shelves and ecommerce this month.

By allowing consumers to use six of bubly’s most popular flavors to make unsweetened flavored carbonated water at home with SodaStream machines, the partnership will create new usage occasions for each brand and open doors to households that previously were unavailable.

“I’m sure brands are coming together saying all this all the time, but I can’t think of a better marriage”​ than between bubly sparkling water and SodaStream, Bryan Welsh, general manager at SodaStream USA, told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explained that the partnership will drive incremental growth for both brands by offering SodaStream a “credible branded proposition in flavors, which up to this point … has been almost private label,”​ and giving bubly a new multi-serve format that previously was unavailable to the brand because PepsiCo declared the flavored sparkling water line to be its first plastic-free beverage option.

“A few years ago, CEO of PepsiCo Ramon Laguarta declared that bubly would be the first plastic-free beverage of PepsiCo,”​ which essentially eliminated high-volume 20-ounce and two-liter formats that often are sold in convenience stores and contribute a “massive amount of business”​ to most carbonated beverage brands, Welsh said.

“It was quite a position to take. But because [PepsiCo] had just purchased SodaStream, [Laguarta] wanted SodaStream to play a role”​ in supporting the bubly brand, Welsh said. As such, he explained, the reusable 1-liter plastic bottled that accompanies SodaStream machines becomes bubly’s multi-serve option when paired with the new bubly drops.  

“It is such a futuristic way of thinking about beverages for a brand like bubly. Why are we transporting so much water all the time and lugging it into people’s homes, when with the bubly concentrate, this little powerful little bottle, they can make 12 [1-liter bottles]. Doesn’t that just make sense?”​ Welsh said. “And so, we literally offer the bubly brand an incremental occasion that they just wouldn’t get”​ without SodaStream to open household doors for it.

bubly lends SodaStream flavors credence with well-established brand

From SodaStream’s perspective, the partnership offers access to the sparkling flavored water category with syrups from a brand that consumers know and trust.

“Eighty percent of the consumption of our business right now is not flavored,”​ which while healthy is not how most Americans enjoy sparkling water, Welsh said. “So, we’re leaving so much on the table if we don’t really lean forward in a flavor way.”

The partnership brings consumers six bubly flavors: grapefruitbubly, blackberrybubly, limebubly, strawberrybubly, mangobubly and cherrybubly, all of which are free from calories, sweeteners and artificial flavors.

The drops are available now at Target in-store and online and also at SodaStream.com, Amazon, Walmart.com, BedBathAndBeyond.com and other e-comm retailers for a suggested retail price of $5.99 per bottle.

To support the launch, bubly spokesperson Michael Bublé touts the partnership in a playful new ad campaign​ for SodaStream in which he repeatedly, and stubbornly, mispronounces the bubly brand like his last name.

Partnership helps SodaStream streamline portfolio

The partnership also allows SodaStream to pare back its portfolio of syrups to better meet evolving consumer demand, and more efficiently fill retail orders at a time when many CPG brands are rationalizing SKUs to compensate for ongoing supply chain challenges related to COVID-19.

Prior to teaming with bubly, SodaStream offered 43 different 40-ml syrups, which Welsh said might sound impressive but actually created a long, difficult to manage tail that was not productive or incremental for the brand.

He explained that most of SodaStream’s flavors were sweetened or more akin to sodas, but that it had very little to offer consumers who wanted “more of a flavor essence”​ that was unsweetened and more sparkling water forward.

The bubly drops replace SodaStream’s private label fruit drops, bringing the total flavor options down from 43 to 10 SKUs, including SodaStream’s premium, organic flavor offering under the Soda Press Co. line.

Some of the paring was related to COVID-19 challenges, which forced many CPG brands to scale back selection to focus on best-sellers to help keep store shelves stocked, especially during the early pantry-loading days. Once the threat of COVID-19 has passed, Welsh said, SodaStream likely will bring back some of the other flavors it temporarily discontinued, but “there is no way we’re just going to pile on”​ and bring everything back.

Rather, he said, “we need to look for different ways to get at new households and new needs,”​ and the partnership with bubly does that.

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