“Entrepreneurial Junkie” Lance Collins Raises Curtain on Core Natural

Premium water is growing fast, there’s a void in the distribution market, and, just as nature abhors a vacuum, Lance Collins can’t stand a chance to go after white space in the supply chain.

So as Smartwater continues to progress from independent DSD accounts back to Coca-Cola’s own distribution system, while alkaline waters like Essentia and Aquahydrate grab a chunk of the functional space and high-end plays like Voss are also growing fast, Collins has come up with a way to get in the race.

For Collins’ Core water, in development since at least 2013, the longtime beverage entrepreneur (Fuze, NOS, Rehab, Body Armor, as well as a pile of trademarks that are waiting to be cashed in) has reunited with design partner Paula Grant of Flood Creative while also roping in an experienced team for a wide-ranging launch that encompasses some of the country’s most important distributors. Beyond that, Collins has brought on partners from the music world, including Grammy-winner Lukasz Gottwald, otherwise known as Dr. Luke, as well as hot artists like Katie Perry and Diplo.


“We think we came out with something that’s different from a packaging and contents perspective,” Collins said. “It tastes great, it’s got the music platform, and as a marketing platform, that is really exciting as well.”

As BevNET reported previously, key Glaceau brand builder Big Geyser is on board in New York, while Tony Haralambos has been distributing the brand in Southern California for the past six months. building up a retail presence in retailers like Ralph’s, Gelson’s, Bristol Farms and Fresh and Easy.

But the company really tried to raise the curtain yesterday when it announced that it was joining former Glaceau distributors Polar Beverages in New England, Kalil in Arizona, John Lenore in San Diego, Honickman in Philadelphia, Columbia in the Pacific Northwest and New Age in Denver for the brand’s extended rollout. Alongside those heavyweights were a list of major approvals: Whole Foods, as well as Kroger, Safeway, and a green light from 7-Eleven as well.

While that distribution footprint brings aboard some of the most effective DSD wholesalers in the country, they are by no means only throwing in with Core. Several of those companies – Haralambos, Big Geyser and Polar included – already carry Essentia, which has been the fastest-growing brand in the natural channel.

Collins claims that Core isn’t a “me-too” and points to the brand’s high-end design – it has a unique blue cap that can be used as a cup, while the body of the bottle features a whitish cloud that offers glimpses of the liquid at the top and bottom – and pH of 7.4 as its key distinguishing features.

At 7.4 pH, Collins says, the brand has the same pH as blood or plasma.

726574431.core.fam1“We believe we’re the new brand in the premium water set,” he said. “We’re not playing the alkaline game. Alkaline is 8.0 or above.”

That may be the point of differentiation that has allowed distributors like Big Geyser to rationalize placing it on their trucks alongside Essentia, but the consumer proposition will be another challenge altogether. On that consumer education front, Collins has brought on talented CMO Eric Berniker – who worked with both Glaceau and Pirate’s Booty, a snack brand bought by Glaceau’s co-founders – to handle the job while funneling the reach of his musical representatives.

Meanwhile, Collins said, the Body Armor brand – one that he has famously noted he believes will disrupt the market dominance of Gatorade – sits under the supervision of Mike Repole, Berniker’s former boss at both companies. Collins said he’s happy to see that set of people handling the execution.

Having Body Armor co-founder Repole and his team running that brand on a daily basis, Collins noted, “allows me to be a serial entrepreneur, an entrepreneurial junkie, if you will.”