Review: Liquid Death

Posted: Feb 13, 2019 at 2:06 PM (Last Updated: Feb 13, 2019 at 2:45 PM)

Covers Products: Liquid Death - Mountain Water

With a tagline of “Murder Your Thirst,” Liquid Death is a brand that is trying to cut through the noise of the crowded bottled water category with a unique and subversive approach.

Going beyond the name, Liquid Death’s branding, which features a gothic font and an image of a skull that appears to be melting away, feels tongue-in-cheek and certainly will catch some eyes. The theme continues throughout the can (check out the copy on the back of the can if you’d like a laugh or two) and on the company’s web site, which features an age gate that states “THIS WATER MAY BE DISTURBING TO PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE.”

Another component to Liquid Death worth mentioning is the company’s use of a 16.9 oz. tallboy can. While they are not the first to put water in the can, this product is, at least from a purely aesthetic perspective, the nicest looking one that we’ve seen. If looks and feels very much like a craft beer and it at least helps make the theme of death seem approachable and inviting (did we really just say that?).

But let’s get back to reality and look at this product from a practical perspective. Liquid Death and its promise to “Murder Your Thirst” are certainly good for a chuckle or two. As with other novelty beverages, the long term prospect in taking this approach is often challenging.

It feels lower key than the likes of something like Cocaine Energy Drink, which garnered massive media impressions but eventually failed (and also was on Fortune’s list of 101 Dumbest Moments in Business). And it certainly has a leg up on Jones Soda’s Turkey & Gravy Soda in that Liquid Death is a product that you can actually consume without making yourself feel sick. Still, it’s hard to imagine people consuming this in public or retailers giving this prominent placement. Perhaps they’ll prove us wrong.

In terms of it being a functional bottled water product, we have a couple of thoughts on this, too. First, there’s the liquid inside the can, which is mountain water from the Austrian Alps. It’s naturally alkaline at 7.9 pH and has a soft mineral flavor that is certainly quite drinkable and refreshing. Second, there’s the tallboy 16.9 oz can. This has an angle of sustainability that speaks to the growing concerns over the use of plastic. However, the lack of resealable cap is likely to be a challenge.

Ultimately, we feel that Liquid Death has successfully created an eye-catching brand that is sure to give it a boost out of the gate. However, once the novelty appeal wears off, and we believe it will, this branding may limit  its potential for success in the water category.

That said, there’s probably a clever strategy for evolving this into an everyday brand with some legs to it, either by diversifying across product categories or by maturing the brand somehow.

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