After enjoying strong performance in conventional and mass retailers in a Tetra Pak, coconut water brand Vita Coco aims to use a new PET bottle as a springboard for continued growth in the convenience channel.
Starting next week, Vita Coco will begin offering three coconut water SKUs — original, pineapple, and twist of lime — in a 16.9 oz./500 ml PET bottle exclusively at 7-Eleven stores nationally. The bottles will have a suggested retail price of $2.99.
Speaking to BevNET yesterday, Jane Prior, executive VP of global brand strategy and development at Vita Coco, said the new bottle is an opportunity for the company to focus on developing its presence in C-stores, which currently comprise about 23 percent of its total business.
The initiative will put Vita Coco into 90 percent of 7-Eleven stores nationally; the brand is currently available in approximately 60 percent of the retailer’s locations
“If you look at other categories like enhanced water, they are seeing upwards of 40-plus percent of their business in C-stores,” he said. “Us being the leader [in coconut water], we need to drive that.”
With PET, Prior explained, Vita Coco chose a format that C-store consumers are already familiar with, but also looked for ways to stand out from the competition. She said that the company’s previous experience with a single-serve non-Tetra Pak product — Vita Coco Sport, a sports drink sold in an 18 oz. bottle that launched in 2014 and has since been discontinued — did not have an influence on the company’s decision. Vita Coco also previously offered a chilled multi-serve coconut water in a 1.5L PET bottle, which was also discontinued.
“I think the primary objective for us with this is to get to a wide mouth [opening],” Prior said. “A lot of the other coconut waters that are in PET already are in a smaller mouth. The wide mouth was a very important point of difference for us in terms of the experience of drinking out of this bottle.”
The exclusive partnership with 7-Eleven will last for six months, but Prior indicated that the company has a plan to expand PET bottle availability beyond the C-store chain in the near-term. It will ultimately become part of the brand’s overall portfolio mix, she said, with small format being the first priority.
“The opportunity to do something with 7-Eleven as an exclusive is exciting for us,” she said. “It’s the first time that channel and that retailer are really leaning into coconut water, so it just feels like this is the right time for us to do this.”
In addition to launching a PET package, Vita Coco is also preparing for the debut of a new line of sparkling coconut water next month exclusively at Kroger stores nationwide. The line will be available in 12 oz. aluminum cans in four flavors — grapefruit, lemon ginger, raspberry lime, and pineapple passionfruit. Each single-serving can will contain approximately 280 mg of potassium and no added sugar.
Prior said the line will seek to tap into consumers of both traditional coconut water, sparkling water and functional beverages, positioning the brand as “bubbles with benefits.”
“It’s the sparkling experience that you love but also the benefits of coconut water,” she said. “Using coconut water, it has a naturally sweet, more robust flavor profile than sparkling waters.”
The new sparkling line, which is half coconut water and half sparkling water, will be merchandised alongside Vita Coco’s core non-carbonated products, and will have a suggested retail price of $1.99. Following the exclusive launch at Kroger, Prior said the line will be available at retailers in New York City and Los Angeles.
When the product launches next month, Vita Coco will represent the largest coconut water brand to enter the sparkling market, following the likes of Blue Monkey, Jax Coco, Thirsty Buddha, Coco Libre and others.