“Beverage Digest’s 2015 Fact Book reports that in 2014 Americans purchased 130 fewer servings of soda per person compared to 2005, while purchasing more than 90 more servings of bottled water,” said Neil Kimberley, Essentia Water’s vice president of strategy and brand development. “Since 2000, the amount of soda consumed by Americans has decreased by 26%. Today, we’re dealing with more educated consumers whose preference has clearly shifted to healthier beverage options. Essentia is at the forefront of this change bringing the benefits of ionized alkaline water to mainstream consumers interested in better for you beverages. As an example, Target has just authorized Essentia in all their stores.”
The trend is not limited to retailers who have traditionally been at the forefront of the health and wellness trends like Whole Foods. Convenience stores are the fastest growing premium water retail segment up 23%. With new heavy-hitter distributors like Polar Beverages, Big Geyser Inc., Maletis Beverage, and Haralambos Beverage Co., among others, Essentia has just begun to target the channel. Healthy food and beverage brands like Essentia offer convenience retailers a huge growth opportunity, as women, Millennials and Generation Z make health and wellness purchases a top priority. At her NACS State of the Industry session, Sherry Frey, senior vice president of Nielsen Perishables Group, said “Consumers are looking for convenience: convenient food and now, convenient health.”
Still, Essentia, a brand that cut its teeth in the natural retail channel in 1998, continues to hold the no. 1 spot and shows no signs of slowing its growth in natural. In Whole Foods, for example, sales of Essentia grew by roughly 25% for Q1, 2015.
“When we launched back in 1998, it quickly became apparent that the timing in the general marketplace was not right. So Essentia began to build a foundation among the Whole Foods and natural channel consumers,” explains Ken Uptain, Essentia’s founder and CEO. “As health and wellness products become a must for every generation, and mainstream retailers work to address this growing demand, Essentia is well-positioned to continue on our rapid growth curve in the United States and abroad.”
In key markets such as New England, New York City, the Pacific Northwest, and Southern California where the brand is engaged in marketing activities like sampling, event sponsorships and high profile social influencers, its growth has been as high as 250%. In New York City where Essentia’s distributor Big Geyser replaced SmartWater with Essentia, growth numbers in the past four weeks have been just over 1,000% according to Nielsen numbers. In markets where the brand has secured distribution but has not yet engaged in marketing activities, growth has been as high as 85%.
All of this comes less than a year after Essentia secured a private placement investment led by Castanea Partners with participation from First Beverage Ventures, which is the private equity arm of First Beverage Group, for an undisclosed amount. The investment supported the brand’s expansion of its distribution network, sales force, brand activation and supply capabilities to compete and win in the mainstream marketplace.
An important component of Essentia’s brand activation is a marketing campaign rolled out this summer that is based on findings of double-blind clinical study where Essentia was found to be 88% more hydrating than another leading bottled water brand. The study is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal in late 2015.