This week’s post focuses on the growing trend of liquid water enhancers. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal, Bevnet.com, and BevReview.com all broke news that Kraft MiO will be expecting some branded competition fairly soon (BevReview’s article has some more information, and links to the other two articles here). While the current market in the United States for liquid enhancers includes MiO and some smaller players, the entry of Coca-Cola’s Dasani Drops signals that the category is viable and ready for more competition. After all, MiO has been in the market for just over a year and has extended their product line to include caffeine content to reach out to users that want an energy boost in their beverage options as well (MiO Energy).
As the leader and only well-known branded player, Kraft had to invest significant dollars into educating users and bringing attention to the category. Their product can only be successful with more awareness about the product and liquid water enhancers market. As a result of increased awareness, private label manufacturers have benefited greatly from MiO’s innovations by driving shoppers into grocery supermarkets and the beverage aisle. Grocery stores have introduced their own version of the product and placed them side-by-side with MiO but at lower prices. Shoppers originally came in-store to buy a MiO liquid water pack, but switch to a less expensive option at the shelf because they do not want to sink in so much money into an unknown product. And now Kraft MiO’s growth and category promotion has attracted Coca-Cola’s Dasani to enter the market.
Smart move by Coca-Cola to wait a year and then enter the market. Let Kraft do all the work to bring attention to the category and products, monitor their sales and consumer reaction, then enter the category since it merits investment from the beverage giant. Now they only have to focus on featuring their own product, while promoting the category becomes secondary since all the education costs were bore by Kraft in the previous year. Kraft MiO will also benefit from the competition that Dasani Drops creates, since that will lead to more dollars spent on promoting products in the category overall. The stronger category awareness is, the more chances that Kraft can sell their product without promotional dependence.
It’s likely that Coca-Cola’s entry will spark an entry from Pepsi and Nestle Waters in the near future. When that happens, Kraft MiO will likely see diminishing returns since the category will have grown so much that now their focus will be product differentiation so shoppers are choosing their brand versus that of Dasani, Aquafina, Nestle Waters or some other product (note: there is no confirmation that Pepsi will be launching a liquid flavor enhancer, let alone extend the Aquafina name to the category – this is just a thought).
In Canada, the only liquid water enhancer that I’ve heard of comes from a company called Drink Intuition, which positions their product along the health and wellness trends of stress relief and detoxification. The liquid water enhancer market would benefit greatly with more category promotion, but Intuition really is a niche player and does not appeal to everyone. Canada could benefit greatly as MiO and Dasani potentially compete to see who can bring their product into the Canadian marketplace first. With distribution all set up, it may only be a matter of adjusting their packaging and messaging to meet Canadian guidelines: including French copy and a nutrition table.
Until the product enters Canada, it looks like BevWire will still have to head south of the border to try and find some Kraft MiO and MiO Energy. Soon enough, I will also be looking for Dasani Drops.