Diego Garcia is confident that he’s found the best coconut water on the planet and wants to share it with everyone. But he’s not buying billboard space any time soon.
Since co-founding Pure Brazilian Coconut Water in 2013, Garcia and his Cheyenne, Wyo.-based company has put minimal resources towards conventional advertising. Instead, Pure Brazilian has focused on building awareness for its single SKU of cold pressed, high-pressure processed (HPP) coconut water from Brazil primarily through product demos and positive word-of-mouth marketing.
“You’re not going to see us on billboards, you’re not going to see us doing a Super Bowl commercial,” said Garcia in a call with BevNET. “We are literally just focusing on the water and keeping our costs down so we can get it to the consumer at a price that is doable.”
That focus is evident in Pure Brazilian’s production process. Garcia’s enthusiasm is palpable when he talks about company-owned farms in northeast Brazil, where young, hand-cut Anão coconuts are grown and harvested solely for their water. Garcia says the coconuts have a distinctive flavor profile compared to those sourced in south Asia. Using the Anão, Garcia said, gives Pure Brazilian a cleaner, crisper taste with less sugar because it contains very little meat or oil. He also notes the short five-day voyage by boat from Brazil as an advantage to securing the freshest possible produce.
“We really do feel that we have the best coconut water on the planet at the moment,” said Garcia. He added: “Our land is critical to the taste of our water.”
The brand’s messaging doesn’t lean too heavily on any one side, as Garcia sees Pure Brazilian as spanning across the functional beverage, natural hydration and sports drink categories. The marketing strategy has been simple: “Just get it in front of the customer,” Garcia explained. In addition to conventional retailers, he also said the brand has found a receptive audience in the extreme sports community, particularly with the mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu academies.
The slow growth strategy is beginning to yield results: over the summer, Pure Brazilian launched nationally at Sprouts, with distribution through KeHE, and Fresh Market stores. The brand is also in select regions of Whole Foods, New Seasons, Fresh Direct and other speciality and conventional groceries. Further expansion is on its way, as Garcia said the company will launch nationally at Kroger, with distribution provided by DPI, by the end of 2016. Pure Brazilian is non-GMO, comes in a single-serving 13.5 oz. PET bottle and has a 70 day shelf life.
Outside of the business, Pure Brazilian recently announced a partnership with environmental organization Conservation International, in which the nonprofit will receive 1 percent of all global sales to be used for Amazon jungle preservation. Garcia said the company had already been putting funds aside for that purpose and had been looking for a partner to increase their contribution.
“It has changed the game for us,” said Garcia. “Not only are we bringing the best coconut water to the masses, we are also saving the world, and I say that with all sincerity. As the company grows, we are going to be a big player in conservation.”
The initiative was on display at Natural Products Expo East 2016, where the brand invited attendees to experience a virtual reality (VR) simulation of exploring coral reefs. Another VR installation, this time featuring the Amazon rainforest, is set to debut at Expo West in March 2017.
When asked for his broader thoughts on coconut water’s growth, Garcia deferred; “I try not to get carried away in where the category is going,” he said. Yet the way his own children have grown up with it gave him some indication of its potential.
“I see coconut water being the orange juice of the future,” said Garcia, before adding, “I don’t see Vita Coco or Zico as competition. I just don’t see them as being the same as our coconut water.”