Talking Rain CEO Discusses Sparkling Ice’s International Expansion

Spark_UK_970Sparkling Ice has hopped the pond.

On Monday the fast-growing flavored sparkling water brand announced new distribution to the United Kingdom and Ireland, where it’s launched its three top-selling SKUs – Black Raspberry, Orange Mango and Peach Nectarine – at more than 8,000 stores, with a targeted presence in London, Dublin and Belfast.

In a call with BevNET, Talking Rain president and CEO Kevin Klock called the move into the U.K. and Ireland the company’s “most rapid [international] expansion” yet. The brand’s previous entries have been into Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Australia.

“We’re going for it,” Klock said. “We’re coming in with a big advertising campaign. We’ve got a manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland. We’re taking a very comprehensive approach.”

Klock said that market research conducted by the company indicated that the newly added territories were ripe for a product like Sparkling ICE, citing a shift in consumer attitudes towards traditional carbonated soft drinks similar to what’s been seen in the United States.

“We saw a very similar soda market but that consumers in the United Kingdom didn’t have the large variety in choices available that U.S. consumers have,” Klock said. “For us, we felt that made it the right market to come into and that there was a lot of potential.”

To support the launch, Talking Rain has elicited the services of W Communications, a London PR firm that will lead the promotional efforts. For production, the company has partnered with Northern Ireland-based contract manufacturer Norbev Ltd., which has reformulated the brand’s top selling flavors to meet European regulatory requirements. The company’s also partnered with brand builder Richmond Brand Revolutionaries and distributor Red Star Brand Revolutionaries.

Though Sparkling ICE has only been on shelves in the U.K. and Ireland since April, Klock stated that the first month’s sales have far exceeded the company’s anticipated results.

“We had a sales target in mind and we’re already going to have to adjust that,” Klock said. “It’s like the U.S. all over again.”

As for Sparkling ICE’s future international expansion plans, Klock said the company will continue to look to identify markets that make sense.

“The Asian market, for instance, will be relevant but the approach will be different,” Klock added. “Whereas Western Europe has a large soda consumption, in Asia they understand juice. So it won’t be as much about cola fatigue as it will be seeking out good-tasting carbonated options to meet that need state.”

Sparkling ICE entered Canada in February of 2015 by way of a distribution agreement with Sun-Rype Products Ltd. At the time, Klock called the move the “critical first step in [the] strategic plan to make Sparkling ICE an international brand.”