As consumers increasingly seek out cleaner labels and functional beverages, PepsiCo-owned Propel Water is hoping to bring them under its wing, undertaking a “brand transformation” beginning this week with the launch of Vitamin Boost, a new functional water line made without artificial sweeteners.
Launched in 2000 as a sugar-free alternative to Gatorade, Propel’s past flavored lines have been sweetened with sucralose. Laura Barnett, PepsiCo’s senior brand director for Propel, told BevNET last week that Vitamin Boost is the first of several upcoming new line extensions which will appeal to label-conscious consumers who have avoided the brand in the past.
“There’s a segment of [functional water] category consumers we call ‘the nutritionally discerning exercisers,’” Barnett told BevNET. “This is a person who’s reading the back of labels, who’s really conscious about making sure things are non-artificial and natural, and we listened to that target demographic for this product.”
Vitamin Boost, which is currently rolling out to retailers nationwide, features Peach Mango, Strawberry Raspberry, and Apple Pear varieties fortified with electrolytes and Vitamins B, C, and E. Each 20 oz. bottle contains a blend of organic cane sugar (2 g) and stevia and has a suggested retail price of $1.39 – $1.89.
The move comes as PepsiCo is adopting a broader better-for-you approach to innovation across its snack and beverage product portfolio. Barnett said the Propel extension is focused on expanding the brand’s appeal to what it identifies as “ingredient conscious exercisers”, but will continue to produce its sucralose-sweetened products as well, citing the brand’s existing consumer base which values zero sugar over clean label.
“We’re really building out a portfolio that is diverse enough to hold the consumers in this growing category and service needs of multiple segments,” she said. “So our goal with Vitamin Boost isn’t to replace base Propel. Base Propel is performing fantastic in the market, we’re in our fifth year of double digit growth…. What we’re so excited about for Vitamin Boost is to invite a consumer who isn’t with us today in the Propel family to join us.”
Barnett noted the enhanced water category is up by 5.6 points of household penetration. Part of the growth, she said, is driven by a “resurgence” of consumer demand for vitamins, both in supplements and food and beverage categories. While the company is not yet sharing what future Propel innovations will look like, Barnett said they will focus on similar health-conscious trends.
To support Vitamin Boost, Propel has launched a marketing campaign which includes both a mass media campaign as well as a grassroots ground game that will include traditional sampling approaches and influencer partnerships along with the company’s own fitness festival, Propel Co:Labs, which will be held in Santa Monica, Calif. in July.
“We’re trying to understand how we can help people on their fitness journey,” Barnett said. “We want to know how we can help them make those small choices, spark joy in their day, be a brand that can taste great, and give them a reward for their hard work.”