Shaking up the sparkling water category: crystal clear results from a consumer-centric concept development process

Sparkling water needs no introduction. A staple of dinner tables, restaurants and cafes for many years, it is the ultimate Ronseal product – doing exactly what it says on the bottle. Purists may have their favored brand, but in a category where products are as common as… water, where next?

Two brands recently caught our eye for venturing into new territory for sparkling water. Evian and CanO both offer sparkling water but in a can format. By combining the expected water trope of being fresh from the Alps with the added recyclability of a can format, they offer a subtle twist on a classic product. We used our Concept Accelerator solution to uncover what further learnings each product could take on board in future, by directly hearing from British consumers.

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For evian, consumers responded warmly to its description as a “lightly sparkling” water, setting a clear expectation of how this would compare to the wider category offerings. The pack visuals also drove appeal, the embossed bubble design appealing and driving home the “sparkling” message, and the recyclability reassurance assuaging any guilt they may have on buying water. There was clear opportunity to elaborate further on the “added sparkles” message – the “added” nature leading to some concern about how they were added, whether this was a natural process, and the “sparkle” providing some confusion as to what a sparkle constitutes. Consumers also stated the desire for a larger sized can to be made available - perhaps reflecting the evian heritage of being a family friendly brand offering multiple bottles sizes, and suggesting a real opportunity to carve out a role for the can proposition in a sea of evian bottles.

By contrast, consumers called out the unique nature of CanO – its role as a new kid on the block giving it a freshness reinforced by its stark monochrome pack aesthetics. The bold black color and stark design with minimal text and graphics offer a contrast to typical water options and generate some buzz. However, this design proves somewhat polarising, being too much of a shift for some consumers who found black too strong a choice for water - again speaking of the importance of balancing a holistic proposition with breakthrough potential. Consumers were however bowled over by its claim to a resealable top – a novelty for the can market - and one which brings the re-useability of a traditional water bottle into this new format, further reinforcing eco-credentials.

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The strength of Concept Accelerator is also in evidence through the buzz observed around this format twist; consumers were so enamored of it they suggested it as a future improvement for evian – a fine demonstration of the benefit to be had in exposing consumers to different concept routes for a wider insight into consumer thinking. All in all, it’s fair to say the category has not yet gone flat…!

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