Sparkling ICE now has options.
The brand’s parent company, Talking Rain, has cobbled together a national network for reaching convenience stores, CEO Kevin Klock told BevNET Editor Jeffrey Klineman during a wide ranging interview on the floor of the NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) Show.
The option of going into C-stores is just one of several new choices facing the company, which has famously risen from near-bankruptcy to become the owner of the company’s hottest beverage brand over a five-year period.
One new option that wasn’t available, Klock told BevNET off-camera, is that the company might be considering purchasing other beverage brands. That ability to consider acquisition is part of the set of options that come with increased access to a variety of channels that didn’t become relevant until Sparkling ICE caught fire.
As he bantered through scheduled interviews with a variety of media — the New York Times was headed over on Tuesday, Klock allowed — inside a giant inflatable “Sparkling ICE Cube” that reflects the company’s increased marketing budget, an increasingly confident Klock indicated that, despite the brand’s momentum going into the convenience channel, he wasn’t about to lose focus on the grocery chains that have served as the platform for the brand’s growth.
“We don’t want to just run across the other channels of trade and then leave them,” Klock said when asked about how important the brand’s nascent c-store presence ($10 million compared to approximately $250 million in grocery) would be in the coming year. As part of the preparation, he said, the company has begun investing in getting custom glide racks and other merchandising apparatuses into the channel.
Klock addressed multiple issues related to growth and execution for the brand, including the new shadow of competition from all levels of the industry – from copycat products from smaller companies to “Big Cola” reviving the sparkling versions of established water brands that had once been scuttled.
“The fact that there’s other brands coming in,” Klock said, “the question is do they offer anything different from a brand proposition…. We don’t see this as a bad thing.”
With so many brands chasing after the Sparkling Ice consumer, however, Klock stressed that he isn’t up nights.
“What gets me excited is that we haven’t penetrated this market,” for established Sparkling Ice consumers, he said. “Here’s that convenience purchase that we haven’t had available to them.”
To hear more about Sparkling ICE’s plans for innovation, route-to-market, competition, and the potential for the brand to reach $1 billion by 2018, and the reason why Kevin Klock might kill an editor, enjoy the following video from the NACS Show.