BevScape Innovation

Pop Water Comes With Some Popular Founders

Here’s the challenge for Troy Carter, the manager of pop superstar Lady Gaga: launch a brand that has a basis in celebrity DNA without necessarily using those celebrities as the only reason to buy the product.

In late October, Carter announced that he was launching Pop Water, a low-calorie soft drink with famed fashion photographer Terry Richardson as its design director. Activate Drinks co-founder Burke Eiteljorg is also attached to the project, bringing beverage industry knowledge and contacts to the team.

But despite his and Richardson’s strong ties to the cultural and musical phenomenon that is Lady Gaga, Carter made it clear that  he isn’t making “GagaH2O” — his plans for Pop Water don’t rely on his famous client’s celebrity to sell the product.

She is an investor, Carter said, but “Pop Water is completely independent of Lady Gaga.”

Not that having a product attached to Ms. Gaga doesn’t help, Carter concedes, but the company is interested in developing a credible beverage brand that isn’t based solely on celebrity because he’s wary of not having a product that could stand on its own.

“We understand celebrity really well,” Carter said. “We know when it’s an advantage and when it’s a disadvantage. You cannot hide a bad product behind celebrity.”

Instead, Carter is hoping that the brand’s striking design – the 11.2 oz. aluminum bottles, imported from Europe, feature strong fruit-splash graphics – and low calorie count will intersect with an ongoing move toward healthier beverages. The product is a 30-calorie fruit-flavored CSD, sweetened with a mix of sugar and stevia. The brand will debut in January in four flavors: pineapple, grape, orange and apple. Atom Factory worked with Wild Flavors on product development for almost a year, according to Carter.

Eiteljorg has been working with Carter and Richardson to build a team to help aid distribution and sales. The product is expected to launch through a handful of well-known southern California distributors when it debuts, although no MSRP has yet been attached to it.

“We have three or four of the usual players lined up now,” Eiteljorg told BevNET.

According to Carter, the company will focus initially on supermarket and specialty retailers, although with regard to alternative channels, “we have some tricks up our sleeve.”

Richardson, an edgy photographer who is known for erotically-charged shoots, was responsible for the design of the bottle. He has already worked on a coffee table book with Lady Gaga, released last year.

The idea for a soft drink arrived following what Carter called “music-related initiatives” with the Coca-Cola Co., Inc. and PepsiCo, Inc. According to the branding expert, the ties between music and pop culture have not been fully infused into the DNA of a beverage brand.

There are similarities between music and beverage, he added, in terms of starting small, building an audience, and making investments at the right time.

“We’re coming into the beverage industry with full respect,” for the challenges it entails, he said.

Both Lady Gaga and Atom Factory clients Greyson Chance and Fareoh quickly passed along “likes” on Facebook following the unveiling of the Pop Water project. But another one of Carter’s clients, John Legend, is already on board with Hint Water as an investor and brand representative. Despite client loyalty, the manager said, there won’t be any room reserved for Hint in the Atom Factory’s refrigerator.

“That’s going to be Pop Water only,” he said.


Gluten-Free Market to Reach $4.2 Billion in Sales in 2012

With nearly one in five U.S. adult consumers now purchasing or consuming products tagged as gluten-free, sales of gluten-free foods and beverages are expected to reach $4.2 billion in 2012, according to a new report from consulting group Packaged Facts. The report indicates that the gluten-free category has enjoyed a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent over the past four year period, and while the group expects growth to moderate over the next five years, the market research firm has pegged the segment to reach $6.6 billion in sales by 2017.

The report ties the rise of gluten-free foods and beverages to growing research that links grain-based diets to a variety of health ailments including celiac disease and food allergies. And as consumers increasingly shift toward healthier lifestyles and become more aware of gluten-free offerings, David Sprinkle, the research director at Packaged Facts, states that “the conviction that gluten-free products are generally healthier is the top motivation for purchase of these products.”

In Advance of a Broken Straw

We’ve got some pouch news in our Malternatives coverage, but this is kind of neat: Ampac has announced the launch of the Pull Tab beverage pouch.  The Pull Tab innovation is an alternative beverage pouch format to the traditional straw punch-through beverage pouch that is commonly used in the beverage market. If you’ve ever known the devastation of breaking your pointy straw trying to get at that Capri-Sun, you’ll know just how significant a development this is.