Coca-Cola North America announced the March 2020 launch of AHA to its fast-growing water lineup.
Eight bold flavor fusions — Lime + Watermelon, Strawberry + Cucumber, Citrus + Green Tea, Black Cherry + Coffee, Orange + Grapefruit, Apple + Ginger, Blueberry + Pomegranate and Peach + Honey — pair widely appealing fruit flavors with trending but less expected ones.
The calorie-free, sodium-free offerings will hit stores in multi-packs of 12-ounce cans and in 16-ounce individual cans.
AHA will be the first major brand launch in a decade for Coca-Cola North America (Gold Peak, now a billion-dollar tea brand, debuted in 2006).
The rollout comes as Americans’ thirst for drinks without sugar or calories continues to grow. AHA joins Coke’s sparkling water portfolio alongside smartwater sparkling, an enhanced premium offering, and Topo Chico, a fast-growing sparkling mineral water sourced from Mexico.
“Sparkling water has had another very big year, and we are well-positioned to increase our presence in the category in a big, bold way,” said Celina Li, VP, Water, Coca-Cola North America. “In addition to our popular, fast-growing offerings from smartwater and Topo Chico, AHA brings another exciting entrant to the category that is forward-thinking and will not just inspire people to try it, but give them a reason to choose the brand over and over again.”
AHA will replace DASANI Sparkling at retail, which has been on the market since 2014. DASANI Sparkling will continue to be available on DASANI PureFill and Coca-Cola Freestyle.
Extensive research and consumer insights informed the development process that brought AHA from concept to prototype in just over six months.
In addition to mining category purchase data, Coca-Cola spoke to thousands of consumers — from sparkling water loyalists, to occasional drinkers, to those who’ve tried a brand or two but haven’t found what they like. Learn more about the AHA flavor development process.
“There are unmet needs for consumers in the category today, both for those who don’t drink sparkling water regularly today and for those who do,” said Julie Siwemuke, sparkling water director, Coca-Cola North America. “When shoppers browse the sparkling water aisle, they’re looking for interesting and approachable flavors that offer a refreshing treat. They’re also drawn to fun, colorful brands with personality.”
Americans are drinking sparkling water in more occasions and times of day, and for more reasons, than ever.
The AHA team intentionally developed aromatic flavor combinations to meet these evolving needs. For example, Lime + Watermelon and Strawberry + Cucumber profiles meet the desire for flavor-forward refreshment. And Citrus + Green Tea and Black Cherry + Coffee include 30 milligrams of added caffeine for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up.
The team started with initial list of 800 potential flavors before testing 50 combinations and, ultimately, landing on the final lineup of eight AHA flavors. They also consulted a diverse range of customers — across channels like grocery, drug, mass retail and convenience — throughout the development process. Collectively, these retailers urged the company to bring a smart, differentiated offering to the shelf.
“Our partners told us, ‘We don’t need yet another lime- or berry-flavored sparkling water. We need something fresh and new that can help grow the category’,” Siwemuke said. “Retailers truly believe in the future of sparkling water and are looking to Coca-Cola to lead. They’re as excited about AHA as we are.”