Plink! The effervescent future of functional beverages

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Plink!
Source: Plink!

Related tags beverage trends Packaging Plastic Recycling

Once associated with refreshment and relaxation, the crack of a can or hiss of gas following the twist of bottle top is becoming a source of anxiety for some consumers who associate it with single-use plastic, broken recycling systems and unwanted litter.

And yet, many are unwilling to give up the flavor, health benefits and joy these beverages offer – creating an opportunity that startup Plink!​ is seizing with the launch this spring of its eponymous and onomatopoeic beverage brand, which dramatically reduces the environmental toll but not the fun or function of a drink.

Plus, the naturally flavored effervescent tablets offer a delightful, delicate sound when dropped into a glass of water that consumers can associate with action.

“People consume over a trillion liters of packaged drinks every year and that packaging litters our waterways and our oceans, and the carbon footprint – not to mention the cost – of trucking about water is massive,”​ former futurist and company co-founder Maxwell Luthy told a panel of judges last month at the BevNet New Beverage Showdown, which the brand won, as part of BevNet Live! in New York City.

“Our solution is simple: You simply fill up a glass of water, drop a Plink! [effervescent tablet] in and boom! You make a delicious beverage with 99% less packaging and a fraction of the carbon footprint,”​ he said.

He added: “This is an actionable product. It is experiential. It has an ASMR-like quality”​ that when dropped in a glass generates hundreds of tiny bubbles that pop and fizz as the water takes on a pastel shade of pink or yellow and the scent of pineapple-grapefruit, watermelon or pomegranate-berry greets consumers.

This experience, he notes, allows the brand to tap in to the “daily moments of joy”​ that inspire most beverage purchases that are shared with family and friends.

Familiar format appeals across generations

Launching in May, the brand may be new but the technology is not – and will be familiar to anyone who has tried Alka-Seltzer or grew up watching the frequently aired commercials for the antacid, pain, cold & flu and hangover relief tablet brand.

Familiar to older consumers and novel to younger ones, the effervescent Plink! tablets offer a cross-generational appeal, as illustrated in the user generated content and reviews from professional athletes, parents, teenagers and even America’s preeminent quilt historian who all aspire to live comfortably and joyfully, Luthy said.

This type of user generated content is a key element to Plink!’s go-to-market strategy, but so too is sampling, which Luthy joked can be done easily on the same scale as the “stacks of AOL software CDs”​ that were sent to homes in envelopes in the ‘90s because Plink! is so small and lightweight.

By cutting down the packaging and carbon emissions, Plink! also is less expensive than many other functional beverages at about $1.20 pert tablet – a price that likely will go down as the company scales.

Inspiring ‘widespread change’

As for distribution, the brand currently is selling direct-to-consumers but is in talk with retailers and hopes to be in stores by the end of the year. When that happens, Luthy is confident the brand can deliver on its ambitious mission to change the way the world drinks.

“It is very hard to anticipate widespread change when we are neck deep in routines and surrounded by cans and bottles,”​ Luthy acknowledged. But he added, “we used to smoke on airplanes and two years ago you thought it was normal to commute to work an hour a day.

“Widespread change happens.”

What's next in low-and-no-sugar beverage innovation? Find out during our upcoming webinar​ on Tuesday, July 26th at 11 a.m. CST featuring a stellar panel of beverage industry experts.

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