The drink is designed to be fuller flavored, have similar carbonation levels to sodas and offer flavors – supplied using natural fruit essences – exciting enough to entice soda drinkers into the sparkling waters category.
Packaged in 12oz (340ml) cans for convenience and to stress its positioning as a beverage rather than a water, Exotics seeks to attract diet or full-sugar soda drinkers who are striving to be healthier, to convert to sparkling waters.
“Exotics is part of the Pure Life portfolio that targets moms, families, anyone in the family. As a brand I’d say we’re really mainstream and want to help America on a broad scale,” Gigi Leporati, brand manager, Nestle Pure Life Exotics told this website.
“As the No.1 bottled waters brand it’s very important for us to be highly accessible to everyone – reach everyone and appeal to all consumers,” she said.
‘Very promising’ initial sales in Target
“We’ve seen a lot of consumer data and trends showing that people want to eat more healthily, while obesity rates continue to increase,” Leporati said.
"We’ve developed this product to specifically convert these people who are used to sugary flavorful sodas to sparkling waters,” she added, noting a growing subset of people who are actively trying to reduce their intake of sugar and artificial sweeteners – while people are leaving diet sodas at a faster rate than more caloric drinks.
Leporati said that following “very promising” initial sales, distribution is currently being extended beyond Target – where it launched nationwide in June – to other grocery chains.
But there are no current plans to launch the brand abroad, as she explained: “Nestle Pure Life is a global brand so it may happen but it really depends on each country’s strategy when it comes to this kind of product, and whether the market is ripe enough for it, given local consumer trends.”
Nestle Pure Life Exotics comes in four flavors: Strawberry Dragon Fruit (‘sweet and sour notes’), Mango Peach Pineapple (‘a mix of sweet and tangy’), Key Lime (‘refreshingly tart’) and Tangerine (‘bold flavor’).
“We’ve done a lot of research to really find those flavors that are acceptable and liked by a majority of consumers while also bringing that exoticism. That improves return sales and trial,” Leporati said.
“We’ve tasted some of the fruits that might be slightly sweeter than others. Because we are an unsweetened sparkling water, we use these natural fruit essences to flavor the water.
Unsweetened sparkling waters: ‘Small but fast-growing category’
“So we really wanted to find a way to not add any sweeteners but really provide a taste delivery as close to soda as possible within the unsweetened sparkling water category,” Leporati added.
“It has taken time to develop the product – we’ve worked very closely with the flavor houses, for instance. The consumer concept tested very well, so it was a matter of matching a product with the concept that we knew would be successful,” she said.
Describing unsweetened sparkling waters as a small but fast-growing category, Leporati admits it will take time to accustom the broader US beverage palate to unsweetened fizzy drinks.
“We need a lot of trial, and we’re getting the consumer to create these habits through our marketing efforts. But we think that the trend is in our favor – people will eventually get there. But we also want to push it on health grounds,” she said.