Review: Ugly Lands in the US with New Formulations

Posted: Jun 13, 2018 at 12:59 PM (Last Updated: Jun 13, 2018 at 4:39 PM)

Covers Products: Cherry (2018), Lemon Lime (2018), Peach (2018)

Originally launched in the U.K. a few years ago, Ugly Drinks, which is a line of zero calorie flavored sparkling waters, has now launched in the U.S. with an updated look and formulations that were adjusted for the U.S. market (the product is also produced in the U.S.).

The initial U.S. rollout includes three flavors: Lemon Lime, Peach, and Cherry. The products are packaged in 12 oz. cans that feature a bright blue backdrop and a white logo that looks like graffiti. Thanks to these bright graphics and a color palette that’s unique as far as the sparkling water set goes, the product most definitely stands out.

We’d say the same for the brand itself, which uses a word that typically has a negative connotation and recasts it in a playful and approachable way. This, too, is a very different approach to the products that Ugly competes with, which are typically named in a safer and softer way.

That said, this product feels very much like something that’s going to skew towards a younger demographic and probably won’t -- at least initially -- compete with the full scope of the market in which many established brands play.. It’s an interesting strategy and one that should, if nothing else, allow Ugly to be focused in how it finds its foot in the door.

Inside the can, they’ve done a nice job with the three flavors. There isn’t anything super groundbreaking about the liquid, although straight cherry and peach aren’t standard flavors (whereas lemon lime is very much the staple of the category) for sparkling water brands with mass distribution. While Ugly can definitely stand up to the competition in terms of taste, taste alone isn’t the reason that consumers are likely to latch on to Ugly.

Instead, the success or failure of Ugly is very much going to be about the brand itself. Having rebranded from a more reserved (but still colorful) package to one that cuts through the visual clutter of the category and feels in-your-face, the company seems to realize this. “Ugly” catches your eye and is a conversation starter that will probably lure people in to try it -- and the liquid is good enough to keep them coming back for more.


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