Though all-natural claims, and ‘clean’ eating and drinking are trending, it seems the cleanest, most natural of all liquids needs a little helping hand. Hydration is no longer enough. Water now has to be functional too. And what’s more, the lines between water and alcohol are being increasingly blurred.
We know that we need it, but do we want it? From fruit-flavoured, to sparkling, cordials, to added vitamins, water on its own never seems to be enough. Every few years a new water trend emerges, to encourage us to drink more packaged water. And in the age of wellness, that trend is focused of course, on optimal health. This time it’s the turn of functional brands to convince us that we need more from water than simply hydration alone.
A flurry in water innovation of late, has us at The Cabinet looking at the varied ambitions of brand owners. Targeting new moments, new needs, and new consumers in search of a more simple alternative to everything from fruit juices, to hard seltzers, these products are looking beyond water’s usual consumer group, and instead offering a wellness-focused trade-off to other established drinks categories. Notably, all offer functional benefits, from added vitamins, to biotics, to boost health.
Some of the new launches we’re seeing are designed to help people drink more water. Spruce, launched in 2021 is described as an ‘all-natural’ and ‘plastic-free’ addition to help consumers drink more water. The fruit powder is designed to work like a cordial, but be much more environmentally friendly; in fact it is described as the first plastic free water enhancer of its kind. Each contains Vitamin D, B1, B3, B5, B6, B12 and Zinc, which helps support key functions such as immunity, cognitive and mental health, and skin and bone health.
Other products are attempting to lure consumers with natural ‘functional’ benefits due to the water’s terroir. Splendor Water, launched in the US, is sourced from La Mana, Ecuador, and has naturally occurring minerals, electrolytes, colloidal gold and silver.
Showing a notable play to be a healthier alternative to cocktails, Aprch Sparkling Wellness Water is infused with Vitamins A, B3, B5, B12, C, and L-Theanine. Why a cocktail alternative? Well, the canned water is available in Pina Colada, Black Cherry, and Tangerine, flavours, but is free from artificial colouring, flavouring, sugar, and calories.
Another product aligning itself with booze trends in Funny Water. Somewhat of an oddity, The flavoured, still water looks to be taking on the hard seltzer category. The product is alcoholic, at 3.75% ABV, but above and beyond a hard seltzer, it contains antioxidants and electrolytes. It is also still. According to the brand founders, the company saw an opportunity to offer a non-carbonated, and low ABV alternative, to bubbly, sugary RTDs. Its available in Watermelon, Citrus, and Cucumber Mint.
Also blurring the lines with booze is new launch, Buzzed, which claims to be the first energy tonic water, made with 100% naturally retrieved caffeine. Sweetened with blossom honey and stevia, the brand says it is purposefully swerving the sugary taste commonly associated with energy drinks, for a more simple, more natural water-based alternative.
Meanwhile, Psychedelic Water claims to be a mood booster, and a world first. It uses kava, damiana, and green tea to create a ‘mild psychoactive blend’. Lightly carbonated, and “Crafted for fluid thinkers”, it is said to tingle your tongue, but not leave you with any jitters or hangover.
A lifestyle choice
In water, it’s the products luring drinkers au fait with the latest booze trends, that are making a splash. Hybrid products that seem to offer both the simple and necessary hydration of water, alongside both functional and sensorial benefits, will continue to emerge, drawing health-conscious drinkers, into new occasions outside of normal functional water consumption moments.
Just as at home behind a bar, as at the gym, pushing water into these new moments through increased functionality is a shrewd play. Will consumers see them as natural enough for their water needs? Will they be a novelty rather than an ingrained, regular purchase?
The success of brands such as Dash Water, which have helped pitch water as that most aspirational of things – a lifestyle choice – suggests they have a chance. In the meantime, expect ever bolder functionality claims to emerge.
Interested in finding out more about what this might mean for you and your business?
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