Why sparkling water is positively bubbly

Category is making huge gains, with no signs of slowing down

More Canadians are passing the bubbly (sans alcohol), as they seek better alternatives to pop, booze and juice.

Between 2009 and 2014, the volume of carbonated bottled water sold in Canada increased by 47%, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.

In 2014, carbonated bottled water posted the fastest sales growth in the bottled water category, increasing 13% to $205 million. Carbonated bottled water is also set to post the fastest growth rates over the forecast period, growing 9% to $311 million in 2019.

Carbonated water still has a long way to go before it catches up to the $2.6 billion soft drinks market in Canada. But pop sales have been steadily declining over the last decade and sparkling water is bubbling up as a natural replacement.

“Everyone is looking for healthy alternatives,” said Jennifer Semley-Robert, marketing manager – premium brands, Nestlé Waters Canada, whose sparkling water brands include Perrier, S Pellegrino and Nestlé Pure Life.

“We see a decrease in carbonated soft drinks and diet carbonated soft drinks and we’re seeing a lot of those users moving over ,” she added. “A lot of it has to do with health and people thinking that a healthy food is more than just the foods that go into your body, it’s what you drink as well.”

A steady stream of new flavours is also keeping consumers engaged in the category. Perrier, for instance, recently added L’Orange to its lineup, which also includes Perrier Original, Lemon, Lime and Pink Grapefruit. “ new flavours brings new users to the shelf and it also adds an alternative for Perrier drinkers to try another flavour,” said Semley-Robert.

U.K. brand Bottlegreen recently introduced Mango & Coconut to its lines of sparkling pressés, which also includes flavours such as Elderflower and Ginger & Lemongrass.

“Consumers are quite demanding, rightly so, about wanting new, interesting and adult flavours,” saidAmanda Grabham, marketing director at U.K.-based SHS Group Drinks Division, which owns Bottlegreen. The sparkling pressés contain no artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners or preservatives.

On top of wanting more premium products, consumers are also cutting back on their alcohol intake. SHS Group’s research found 23% of the Canadian population hasn’t had a sip of alcohol in the last year and 10% aren’t drinking alcohol at all.

SHS Group launched its Shloer brand in Canada last December, with two varieties: Red Grape and White Grape. The sparkling drink, which is sold primarily in 750mL bottles, is more directly positioned as an alternative to alcohol.

“Shloer is much more about being part of a social occasion,” said Grabham. “ still want to be part of the social occasion, but with a soft drink. They can pour it in a wine glass if they want and it doesn’t look out of place.”

Canada Dry is also aiming to capitalize on the sparkling water trend with its new Lemon Lime Club Soda, which is unsweetened and low in sodium. “It stemmed from knowing that consumers are migrating to healthier options… and seeing really positive increases within the sparkling water category,” said Mihiri Tillakaratne, brand manager, Canada Dry.

Lemon Lime Club Soda is being promoted with a national print campaign centred on the message: “Look Who’s In The Club Now.”

This article first appeared on MarketingMag.ca

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