Coca-Cola Revs Up Sparkling Water Portfolio With AHA Launch

Posted On: 11/12/2019

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ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola North America will add more flavor, sparkle, and even a little caffeinated pick-me-up, to its fast-growing water lineup with the March 2020 launch of AHA.

"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 roll out 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 for 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 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 beverage giant to bring a smart, differentiated offering to the shelf.

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 -- but with fizz and flavor -- 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.

Retail sales of Coke North America's sparkling water portfolio -- which offers complementary flavors and brand propositions for a range of palates at different price points and package options -- were up 27% in 2018, according to Nielsen data. These brands are part of Coke's broader water portfolio, which is anchored by Dasani (the No. 1 national water brand) and Smartwater (the No. 1 premium water).

AHA will replace Dasani Sparkling at retail, which has been on the market since 2014. Dasani Sparkling will continue to be available through Dasani PureFill and Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.