Bottled Water Making Waves

bottled water at convenience stores

Both the bottled water and sports drinks categories have continued benefitting from the robust economy and consumers’ penchant for consuming healthier beverages.

Sales of bottled water in convenience stores totaled nearly $4.3 billion in the 52 weeks ending Dec. 31, 2017, while sports drinks totaled $2.8 billion, according to scan data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI. Sales of convenience/PET still waters accounted for more than $3.7 billion, a 3.5% increase during the same period.

Comparably seltzer/sparkling/mineral types only comprised more than $240 million of the total, according to IRI. Some bottled water companies see much potential in sparkling water. The rise of sparkling water has been a hot trend in the beverage industry as consumers continue to move away from sugary beverages toward healthier offerings.

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According to Euromonitor, the sparkling water category grew 70% from 2011-2016 and is expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2022.

It will be propelled by manufacturers like Nestlé—the biggest globally in terms of sales, followed by Coca-Cola, Danone and PepsiCo, according to Euromonitor International. Nestlé recently announced rebranding for its Nestlé Waters’ Regional Spring Water Sparkling portfolio. This includes 10 new flavors, bold bottle design changes, a new can format, and new packaging for the Poland Spring, Deer Park, Zephyrhills, Ozarka, Ice Mountain and Arrowhead Sparkling brands.

The segment could also be marked by the recent Dr Pepper-Keurig merger.

“The beverage category’s recent big news is the coming together of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) and Keurig Green Mountain,” said Ed Collupy, executive consultant at Chicago-based W. Capra Consulting Group. “Although DPS isn’t leading the water or energy drink subcategories, watch for what disruptions are to follow. Keurig is dependent on water, so there could be cross promotional opportunities with DPS water brands.”

Unlike bottled water, some retailers contend that sports drinks tend to be more seasonal in convenience stores.

“Sports drinks had a rough year due to our [cooler] summer,” said Heidi Rembecki, director of merchandising for Tonawanda, N.Y.-based NOCO Energy Corp., which operates approximately 30 NOCO Express c stores.

The c-store chain decided to bring in the Body Armor line about a year and a half ago, and due to strong sales, is expanding to offering the electrolyte-enhanced brand in a
larger container.

“We attribute the strong sales to this being a new product for us, and we encouraged trial with a two for $3 promotion in the smaller size twice in 2017,” said Rembecki.

Gatorade and Powerade brands also are strong sellers, with customers seeking different sizes.

NOCO Express convenience stores also recently expanded its sparkling, electrolyte and spring water offerings in response to consumer demand.