Move over cola wars. It’s time for the sparkling water battles.
PepsiCo (PEP) said on Thursday it was introducing a new sparkling water brand called Bubly at the end of the month in a move that clearly targets market leader LaCroix and continues the food and beverage giant’s efforts to become less reliant on its namesake soda brand.
Bubly will come in eight flavors (including apple, strawberry, and mango) and be available in stores at the end of February, PepsiCo said. The company will bolster its promotional efforts with two ads during the March 4 broadcast of the Academy Awards. The beverage’s cans will feature vivid colors, lower case letters and have greeting such as ‘hey you!’ and ‘hiii’ in a clear gambit to seem hip.
In addition to the hope that the drink will win PepsiCo younger consumers, the company touted the product, which has no artificial flavors, sweeteners or calories, as part of its ongoing efforts to steer consumer to healthier products. In 2014, PepsiCo, along with rivals Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper Snapple pledged to cut beverage calories consumed per person in the United States by 20% by 2025.
Coming soon after last year’s launch of its still bottled-water brand, Lifewtr, the Bubly launch is yet another move for PepsiCo to build up its water business at a time soda consumption keeps falling; carbonated soft-drink consumption in the United States hit its lowest point in 2016 since the mid-1980’s, while water and other non-soda drinks keep soaring. Coca-Cola recently announced its relaunch of the Diet Coke brand in the hopes of getting that part of its business on stronger footing.
Of course, PepsiCo isn’t along in seeing this market boom: Swiss food and beverage behemoth Nestle is planning to soon add its own new water brands. And it is also taking on a strong leader: LaCroix’s volume rose 63% in 2016, according to Beverage Digest.