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The Rise of the Bubbles

When the convenience store a convenient two-block walk from my house opens a refrigerator slot for that old stalwart LaCroix, then we’ll know that flavored sparkling waters have graduated from trend to fixture. Until then, it’s fair to say that we’re in growing trend territory.

Consider, briefly, the quick rise of Sodastream, which signaled much, including the following:

  • the efficacy of anti-sugar/anti-soda legislation/education/marketing/rhetoric
  • the staying power of kitchen gadgets
  • the encroachment of the DIY ethos into the world of the soda monoliths

I don’t know about the future of Sodastream, but I do know that half of the people in my life who own a machine have already relegated it to the hall closet, either because (1) the syrups, all concentrated and sugar-overlordly, are goopy reminders of our unhealth or (2) because cutting and squeezing fresh fruit into little bottles has turned out to be so much less convenient than buying naturally flavored sparkling water at the local grocery store.

If you haven’t noticed that lesser-visited end of the drinks aisle (akin to—as I once heard it described—the “loser side” of Sonic, which is where I always end up parking), take a look next time you go for groceries. Somewhat imperceptibly, the naturally flavored sparkling waters have taken new shelf space—they’re the sidlers of drinks. At my store, there’s LaCroix, Canada Dry, Dasani, Nestle Pure Life, Seagram’s, Perrier, San Pellegrino, and a few others, including private label.

With bottled water poised to overtake soda by 2016, I fully expect to see naturally flavored sparkling beverage product offerings increase (if not more brands, at least more exotic flavors), and I look forward to innovation in product development and frustration among marketers trying to handle the confusion over “sparkling” vs “seltzer.”

The Melding Point

There’s a lot of distance (and temperature) between Scandinavia and Venezuela. But there’s also a lot of opportunity between them, which I’ve experienced while working with a current brand partner, who came to MarketPlace for help marrying a product concept with authentic ties to several geographic regions, from northern Africa to Russia to Spain to Mexico.

As we’ve developed a cohesive narrative for this brand (keep your eyes peeled for the reveal very soon), I’ve been thinking about cultural hybrids, and in the world of food, especially, I’ve been reminded of Marcus Samuelsson, co-host of The Taste and celebrity chef who, due to his upbringing, is known for his melding of North African and Swedish flavor profiles. For my money, he’s a symbol of rich opportunity for product development and flavor trends, especially in the snack world.

Much has been made of Millennials and their preference for global flavors, and much affordable furniture for Americans has been made by Ikea. While I don’t expect to see Yuzu Lutefisk Cheetos hitting the shelves any time soon, the appearance of Sriracha Lay’s (which lost out, unsurprisingly, to Cheesy Garlic Bread) served notice that wide-ranging cultural pairings are more than viable, and I hope to see more partners coming to us to help them figure out how to bring geographically and culturally disparate storylines together into a cohesive, relevant brand.

Read case studies on our work helping develop brand narratives, or to get in touch about your bubbly, hybrid, or other product development needs, please contact us today!

Jeremy Higgins
Jeremy Huggins is a MarketPlace alum. He oversaw our creative and writing teams, led naming projects, and ensured that all of our brand development work is thorough, thoughtful, and meaningful.