The key marketing message for the premium bottled water brand has not been the water itself (a purified water, pH balanced with electrolytes added for taste) but its purpose of ‘advancing and showcasing the sources of creation and creativity’.
Every few months a new series of LIFEWTR bottles puts the spotlight on three new artists working in a similar area. Launched this month, the fourth series focuses on Arts in Education.
Premium water growth
PepsiCo’s LIFEWTR launch came as consumers continued their shift towards lower calorie options; with the bottled water market showing impressive growth, particularly in the premium category.
PepsiCo has been increasing the number of low/no calorie options in its portfolio (two thirds of its portfolio will contain 100 calories or fewer by 2025). Meanwhile, bottled water sales are showing impressive growth – up 9% in 2016 – with Americans now drinking more bottled water than carbonated soft drinks.
And demand for premium brands continues to increase as consumers search out something unique or sophisticated. In 2015, premium water took a 5% volume share of the small-pack bottled water market; but a 12% value share. North America showed the most impressive growth rate, posting a 10.8% CAGR between 2010-2015.
LIFEWTR has positioned itself firmly as a platform for emerging artists. Having a clear purpose is what truly can set a brand apart from the crowd and engage with consumers, Todd Kaplan, vice president water portfolio for PepsiCo North America, told this publication.
“With LIFEWTR, we are hitting home with millennials and culturally curious individuals, those who have an appreciation for art and culture and are thirsty for inspiration,” he said.
“So far we’ve built great momentum with this group seeing strong trial and repeat of the product, and high levels of brand engagement. Their response to LIFEWTR has been overwhelmingly positive.”
So how has LIFEWTR faired in the market so far? Figures from Chicago-based market research firm IRI (@iriworldwide) show the brand has sold close to 85m units and $148.6m in dollar sales between its February launch to December 2017 (total US multi-outlet including c-store (grocery, drug, mass market, convenience, military and select club and dollar retailers).
PepsiCo says it doesn’t comment on specific business performance, but Kaplan said the company is “very pleased with the brand growth in its first year.”
LIFEWTR retails for a suggested price of $2 for a 700ml bottle and $2.70 for a 1L bottle.
The brand is currently only available in the US and Canada, with PepsiCo remaining quiet on the subject of rolling out to any new markets.
Arts in school
PepsiCo's research shows that 60% of bottled water drinkers believe that creativity and inspiration are essential to living a fulfilling life.
LIFEWTR series 4 champions Arts in Education, featuring 3 emerging artists who ‘discovered a more inspired future through early arts education’.
In the US, 80% of school districts report cuts to art programs since 2008 and student creativity scores have started dropping over the past 2-3 decades.
As well as featuring emerging artists, LIFEWTR has announced a strategic partnership with Scholastic to provide classroom art kits – curated by LIFEWTR Series 4 artists – and help fill the gaps in communities where children and youth do not have access to art in school.
“The product is so much more than just a beautiful label on a bottle - LIFEWTR is truly doing something meaningful in the marketplace by providing a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and advance the role that art plays in our consumers’ lives,” said Kaplan.
“We know that is something that resonates with today’s consumer and is extremely important when making purchasing decisions.”
LIFEWTR series 4, launched last week, focuses on the role of arts in education and the brand has partnered with children’s publishing and education company Scholastic to bring more art to classrooms. The series 4 artists are Toronto-based KRIVVY, Luis Gonzales from Boston, and David Lee of Los Angeles.
“Our Series 4 artists curated LIFEWTR classroom kits which were then made available to art educators in grades 7-12, while additional teachers across the nation are now able to request a kit (via mail or download) inclusive of all the kit components, additional art lesson plans, and activities at Scholastic.com/InspireArt,” said Kaplan.
Schools also have a chance to win a visit from one of the artists featured by LIFEWTR.
“LIFEWTR continues to demonstrate that a brand with a strong purpose at the forefront of all it does, can disrupt an otherwise functional category, resonate with consumers, and ultimately build a brand at scale,” said Kaplan.