Hint Adds a “Kick” of Caffeine in Brand Extension

1439067257037_lemoncayennefinal.1200wHint, which markets still and sparkling lines of unsweetened, lightly flavored waters, has introduced a new brand extension called Hint Kick, a three-SKU line of enhanced waters that are infused with 60 mg of caffeine from coffee bean extract. Hint CEO Kara Goldin said the genesis of Hint Kick sprung from its robust business in Silicon Valley tech firms, whose employees — seeking alternatives to coffee and energy drinks — asked the company to created a caffeinated version of its still water.

“It truly did not come from people sitting around Hint saying ‘let’s figure out a line extension,’” Goldin said. “It really came from some core customers, the tech industry, who [were] asking us to develop a product that they could give to their employees.”

Launched two weeks ago, Hint Kick is now available in several offices of Hint’s corporate customers, which include Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook. Hint also sells Kick on its e-commerce platform, a booming segment of the company’s business; Goldin estimates that online sales will comprise 40 percent of Hint’s overall revenue in 2015. She noted that, while still early, the new caffeinated line has “bypassed all expectations.”

“It was supposed to be a little online test and then throw it into Google [offices] and see what happens, and now we’re trying to make it as fast as we can because people are really excited about it,” she said.

Hint Kick comes in three flavor varieties — Apple Pear, Black Raspberry and Lemon Cayenne — each packaged in the same 16.9 oz. bottle that Hint uses for its still water products. The products’ colored labels, however, are a significant departure for Hint (which uses white labels for its other beverages) and are intended to clearly differentiate the caffeinated varieties from its primary lineup. The drinks are line-priced at $1.69.

As for conventional retail, Big Geyser, the largest independent beverage wholesaler in metro New York and a longtime distributor of Hint products, will introduce Kick to its up-and-down-the-street customers in the region beginning tomorrow. Goldin expects Hint Kick to be represented in many of its chain retailers, including Whole Foods, in the coming months. While Goldin sees the line as attracting incremental consumption among many of its current consumers, she views the product line as one that will also bring additional customers to the brand, estimating that 50 percent of Kick will be new to Hint.

She noted that while there are other brands, including Aviate and Hiball, that sell water products with a higher infusion of caffeine, the focus of Hint Kick is to offer a product that equates to a consumer drinking a small cup of coffee with more of a pick-me-up effect than a surge of energy (and the potential for jittery side effects).

“Hence the name, Kick,” Goldin said. “We weren’t looking to make people bounce off the walls or shoot them to the moon. It’s just a little kick. It’s just enough.”