Coca-Cola North America will add more sparkle, and even a little caffeinated pick-me-up, to its fast-growing water lineup with the March 2020 launch of AHA
The new sparkling water brand’s unexpected yet accessible flavor pairings, vibrant packaging and fresh marketing will meet evolving consumer demands and cut through a crowded category that continues to grow at double-digit rates.
“As the largest and fastest-growing part of the water business, mainstream flavored sparkling water is a segment we know we must double-down on,” said Celina Li, VP, Water, Coca-Cola North America. “AHA is our big-bet brand in this big-bet category.”
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-fl.-oz. cans and in 16-fl.-oz. individual cans.
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.
“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 mg of added caffeine for a little 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.
AHA will both appeal to existing sparkling water drinkers and recruit new fans through inclusive and inviting marketing.
“We’re constantly expanding our portfolio with new categories, flavors and packages,” Grant said. “This vision is coming to life through the fastest-growing category in our largest market with innovations that meet evolving needs and preferences. Water is a primary example of how Coca-Cola North America is embracing a true total beverage company strategy with exciting new brands like AHA.”