Following a local launch in October 2017, the Louisville, Kentucky-based water brand has grown to more than 1,500 retail locations nationwide. CEO and co-founder Tom O’Grady told BeverageDaily that the product is ‘opening a space’ in the beverage market with form and function.
The Phocus sparkling waters contain l-theanine, an amino acid found naturally in green and black tea leaves. Each 11.5oz slim can has 75mg of caffeine, about the same as a small cup of coffee. They also have no added sugars, sweeteners, calories or carbs.
Tapping into southern roots
O’Grady called the L-theanine a ‘game-changer’ in the caffeine market because it offers a more natural caffeine delivery and makes Phocus into a functional beverage.
“When you put it in the right ratio with caffeine it smoothes the way the caffeine hits your body, without the crash and jitters you get from other caffeinated beverages,” he said.
The idea for Phocus came from a desire for something different than traditional energy drinks. O’Grady used to drink soda daily for the caffeine and carbonation, but figured there was a better, healthier way to get an energy boost.
“It’s awesome because we’re first to this space, but it’s also a challenge because we have to educate our consumers,” he said.
To coincide with National Peach Month in August, Phocus released Peach as its sixth flavor. It joins the existing Grapefruit, Blood Orange, Yuzu & Lime, Cucumber and Natural.
“As we discussed the introduction of a new flavor, it was important to us to create something that fit well into the current Phocus portfolio, and that we knew our customers would enjoy. Phocus has always been about light, bright, refreshing taste, so when we thought about developing a new fruit flavor, it felt like a natural fit to tap into our Southern roots and create Peach,” O’Grady said.
Society pushing away from CSDs?
This month, Phocus also announced its distribution expansion into national grocery chains, Lucky’s Market and Giant Food Stores. Earlier this year Phocus rolled out in more than 800 CVS locations, and is available throughout New York through distribution titan Big Geyser Inc.
“Lucky’s Market and Giant have done an excellent job of studying their customer’s preferences and bringing in products that meet their needs. 2019 has been a banner year for Phocus, thanks to incredible customer loyalty and the unwavering support from our retail partners that are driving our expansion,” O’Grady said.
“As one of our first customers, we’re thankful to Lucky’s for putting their faith in Phocus and the functional water category, and we’re pleased that consumer response has encouraged them to carry Phocus in all of their locations throughout the country.”
The sparkling water category has been exploding in popularity, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. O’Grady anticipates the trend to continue, with carbonated soft drinks losing market share to enhanced water and functional products.
“I think people are demanding healthier, cleaner products and they know that sodas and sweeteners are no longer what people think they were. I think society is pushing that way...I don’t really see that changing any time soon,” O’Grady said.