In the past, BevWire has blogged about glaceau’s vitaminwater leading the Canadian enhanced water beverage category, but what about Sobe Lifewater? The current enhanced water category really only has two players right now, Coca-Cola’s glaceau vitaminwater, and Pepsi’s Aquafina Plus. Vitaminwater has pretty much dominated the market landscape with more than 50% market share, stealing Aquafina Plus’ market share hand over hand. What if Pepsi were to launch Sobe Lifewater into Canada? Would that combat the market share decline for Pepsi in this category? In the United States, while vitaminwater is the leader, Sobe Lifewater is a strong second.
In Canada, Aquafina Plus has done everything it can to try and appear like a strong second compared to vitaminwater. They have made a bottle adjustment to provide easier grip (and also copy the Sobe Lifewater bottle shape). They have changed the packaging copy to show more focus on the vitamins. They have changed and enhanced the formula to include natural sweeteners and lower the calorie content (Aquafina Plus10). Aquafina Plus has also gone to price reductions such as Buy One Get One offers to give consumers incentives to buy their product over glaceau vitaminwater. However, these actions have only really led to a temporary increase in sales and market share. Most of all, when the product is on a price reduction consumers that are price sensitive will choose Aquafina Plus and when the price rises again they will choose something else.
The Sobe brand itself has morphed a lot from when it was first introduced on the market as a ready-to-drink tea beverage. It has also become an energy drink and an enhanced water. The Canadian marketplace’s strongest brand association is tea, but even then Sobe had to re-brand itself. Sobe has to revive the tea offerings through re-packaging from glass bottles to plastic bottles. This indicates that even though Sobe’s strongest association in Canada is with tea, they are not the leader in this category (having to revive the brand and change the packaging). Therefore, this may be the perfect time to introduce the Lifewater series and provide a stronger competitor against vitaminwater than Aquafina Plus. And seeing Sobe Lifewater’s strength in the United States, Pepsi should strongly consider introducing this enhanced water beverage into Canada as well.