Coca-Cola is launching a new line of flavored seltzers, seeking to give consumers a healthier alternative as more Americans ditch sugary soft drinks.
The new sparkling water brand’s unexpected yet accessible flavor pairings, vibrant packaging and fresh marketing will meet evolving consumer demands and cut through a crowded category that continues to grow at double-digit rates.
“As the largest and fastest-growing part of the water business, mainstream flavored sparkling water is a segment we know we must double-down on,” said Celina Li, VP, Water, Coca-Cola North America. “AHA is our big-bet brand in this big-bet category.”
In March, the beverage giant will launch a line of eight seltzer waters in stores. Dubbed "AHA," they will include flavors like lime and watermelon, strawberry and cucumber, orange and grapefruit, apple and ginger, blueberry and pomegranate, and peach and honey. Some options such as citrus plus green tea and black cherry plus coffee are also caffeinated.
Extensive research and consumer insights informed the development process that brought AHA from concept to prototype in just over six months. In addition to using category purchase data, Coca-Cola spoke to thousands of consumers from sparkling water loyalists, to occasional drinkers, to those who’ve tried a brand or two but haven’t found what they like.
“There are unmet needs for consumers in the category today, both for those who don’t drink sparkling water regularly today and for those who do,” said Julie Siwemuke, sparkling water director, Coca-Cola North America. “When shoppers browse the sparkling water aisle, they’re looking for interesting and approachable flavors that offer a refreshing treat. They're also drawn to fun, colorful brands with personality.”
Brand-by-Brand Breakdown of Coke's Water Portfolio a water for everyone
Americans are drinking sparkling water in more occasions and times of day – and for more reasons than ever. The AHA team intentionally developed aromatic flavor combinations to meet these evolving needs. For example, Lime + Watermelon and Strawberry + Cucumber profiles meet the desire for flavor-forward refreshment. And Citrus + Green Tea and Black Cherry + Coffee include 30 mg of added caffeine for a little morning or afternoon pick-me-up.
A water for everyone
Coca-Cola is taking steps to drive growth in multiple segments within the water category, which saw almost as much retail growth as all other segments combined in 2018.
In 2020, smartwater will launch still flavors. The lineup will include flavors like cucumber-lime, strawberry-blackberry, watermelon-mint and pineapple-kiwi and offers shoppers flavor without the bubbles. Smartwater’s new still flavor expansion will capitalize on the more than 75% growth of premium flavored still water in 2018 (Source: Nielsen) and joins a full spectrum of smartwater hydration solutions which include alkaline and antioxidant varieties.
Shane Grant, president, still beverages business unit, Coca-Cola North America, said these innovations not only demonstrate the company’s commitment to invest in the fast-growing water category but also the cultural change that is occurring to approach new growth opportunities with discipline, but also to be agile, move faster and take smart risks.
“We’re constantly expanding our portfolio with new categories, flavors and packages,” Grant said. “This vision is coming to life through the fastest-growing category in our largest market with innovations that meet evolving needs and preferences. Water is a primary example of how Coca-Cola North America is embracing a true total beverage company strategy with exciting new brands like AHA.”