Review: Villager Goods Coconut Water
Covers Products: Natural Coconut Water
Villager Goods is a company that was launched by the founders of Saint Archer Brewing (Saint Archer having been acquired by MillerCoors in 2015) and aims to launch a suite of lifestyle products under the brand.
This starts with how they present the company through the Villager website and social media accounts: images of surfers and skaters pitch the product being very subtly in comparison to what’s standard in the industry, with the goal seeming to focus on a message of authenticity and healthy living. Whether this brand applies to you or not, it’s something that is visually well-executed and engaging.
As for the product itself, Villager Goods is offering a not-from-concentrate USDA Organic coconut water that is packaged in a 16.9 oz. Tetra Pak carton with a screw top. The coconut water, which is produced in the Philippines, tastes good, but we’d be hard pressed to say that it tastes better than what’s currently out there (editor’s note: Villager will also be offering flavored varieties in the near future). And where it’s likely to stand out is a relatively small niche of the category: shelf stable, not-from-concentrate organic coconut water.
From our perspective as folks who have seen countless coconut waters come and go, it seems daunting to turn something like coconut water -- even with the USDA Organic seal on it -- into something that’s a lifestyle brand that’s going to spark the movement that they are after. After all of the brands that the coconut water category has churned through, the category parameters seem to have stabilized on a product that’s about hydration and healthy refreshment. It’s also settled in a place of maturity where a few brands lead the category in their respective spaces (e.g.Vita Coco/Zico in conventional; Harmless Harvest in organic) with most of the others fighting for smaller niches or simply being commodity players.
With Villager Goods as a relative latecomer, we feel as though there’s much larger pressure on the company to connect the dots between the brand and vision that they’ve set out and the product that they’ve put forth. That’s a place where there seems to be a pretty big disconnect at the moment. Putting aside our view on coconut water for a second, the packaging, which is a minimalist design that almost feels like a look you’d expect from a clothing brand, doesn’t really speak to us the same way they communicate their brand on their website. There, the brand feels more engaging, fun, vibrant, and confident. On the package, it feels muted, earthy, and slightly “me-too” and commoditized.
Ultimately, here’s where we stand: We really like what Villager Goods is setting out to do from a branding and engagement perspective, but there seems to be a disconnect in the product. We definitely question if coconut water is, given where it’s at as a category, a place that they can be successful with the approach they’ve chosen. For now, what they have is a pretty solid tasting organic coconut water, but we wonder if it can stand out.