GIVN Water is looking to make a splash this spring.
The bottled spring water brand launched in 2015 with the mission of providing providing one day of clean water to people in need for every bottle sold. After seeing triple-digit growth in revenue and velocity in 2016, GIVN is targeting further expansion this year with the debut of new package labeling this month, followed by the launch of a sparkling water line in May.
In an interview with BevNET, GIVN co-founder John Houseal said that the company has been developing the new label since last fall with the intent of introducing it ahead of the water category’s busy summer season.
“What we were trying to communicate did not change; I think how we were communicating obviously changed a great deal,” he said of the new labels, which are currently being rolled out to all markets.
Houseal said the revamped packaging aims to distill the multiple call-outs on the previous version down to a simple core message, much of which is represented in the brand name itself. To elevate awareness, the name is now increased in size and is shifted to a vertical orientation. While the phrase “seriously good spring water” remains, GIVN’s other tagline — “infused with good karma” — has been removed.
“[That slogan] was probably one of our most popular and difficult-to-let-go items,” Houseal said. “But as we looked at our overall growth strategy and where we are headed as a brand, we felt like the concept of ‘seriously good’ and that being the foundation of GIVN as a brand was more scalable that the concept of karma.”
While GIVN is naturally alkaline and contains electrolytes, Houseal said he did not see the brand competing on the basis of those on-trend functional benefits.
“In looking how we were going to attempt to separate ourselves, we did not want to get lumped into the broader category,” he explained. “We saw those as supporting attributes, not leading attributes. What we lead with is that it’s a premium water with a premium purpose.”
The brand’s redesigned label is meant to support GIVN’s recent distribution gains nationally. After finishing 2015 with 30-40 retail placements, the brand had secured around 700 at the conclusion of last year, as well as entering distribution partnerships with US Foods, KeHE and about a half-dozen regional suppliers. GIVN also operates five of its own DSD networks in major markets in order to maintain close relationships with customers.
Looking ahead, Houseal said the company is in the final stages of two separate deals which would double its retail and distribution footprint.
GIVN began by building its presence within the conventional and specialty grocery channels, but the brand has since shifted direction towards driving traffic through partnership with regional multi-site fast casual restaurants such as Boston-based B. Good.
“They understand and appreciate what we are trying to be and if we can work with them and it fits in with the economics of what they are trying to do, it becomes a true partnership versus just a vendor relationship,” Houseal said. “When you get into competitive situations in the quick service restaurant space today and grocery as well, what we find is that the buyers are looking for brands that amplify their own and make them look good and when you look at the principal players like Nestlé, Coke, Pepsi, while they do have tremendous presence and distribution, there’s not a lot of brand loyalty to those brands.”
While GIVN’s new label is part of the brand’s commercial strategy, Houseal said the launch of the new sparkling spring water came mainly from his own personal passion.
“We happen to love sparkling natural products,” he said. “The other part is diversification and essentially adding SKUs to drive growth. I’d say the unflavored sparkling segment for us represents a pretty underexplored market.”
GIVN’s sparkling variety, which is slated to launch in May, will be an unflavored carbonated version of its spring water and will be available in a 17 oz. bottle that will retail for around $1.79. Houseal said the product is aimed to compete with the likes of Perrier and Poland Spring sparkling waters.
At least in the short term, GIVN is eschewing innovation in favor of betting big on the concept of “creating a bottle of water that people can feel good about purchasing and retailers can feel good about selling,” according to Houseal. Aside from the development of a 100 percent recycled PET bottle that is also biodegradable, he said that brand’s core focus is on capturing large sections of the single-serve convenience purchase market by emphasizing the message behind the bottle.
“Our whole goal is going right into the heart of the commodified segment of the category and innovating to drive social impact,” he said. “We are tearing down a very focused path over the next 12-18 months to drive up our position in the market before we head back into the more traditional mainline grocery segment.”