What Can You Learn from the Fall of La Croix

Sparkling Water is having a moment. It is a replacement for the sugar-filled soda and the chemical-filled diet soda. Consumers want a beverage that is tasty, healthy, bubbly, and sugar-free, and sparkling water checks all the boxes. And it’s way more interesting than plain water. I really get it, I loved sparkling water when it was called seltzer. Now the market is bigger than ever, retail sales of seltzer in the United States more than doubled from 2013 to 2018, and sparkling water sales spiked 19 percent just last year.

The number one sparkling water brand for the last five years has been La Croix, but for the first time in 5 years, the parent company’s share price took a dive. It dropped a whopping 14.7%.

This comes as two lawsuits have been filed against the company saying that La Croix’s flavors are not actually natural, but synthetic compounds like ethyl butanoate, or linalool (which is used as an insecticide). The company is fighting back, saying its flavors come from natural essence oils derived from fruit, which means they are natural, and because there is no FDA definition of “natural” the answers are murky at best. Even if the lawsuits are both dismissed, the question will be can La Croix be able to regain its ground? And how should they go about rebuilding their connections with consumers?

Or is it the perfect time for other sparkling water brands like Pepsi’s Bubly and SodaStream, or Coke’s new Smartwater flavored sparkling water, or my personal favorite, Topo Chico to take the lead in this booming category?

When news like this pops up, we look right to I-Factor® to tells us how Irresistible these brands really are to their consumers. La Croix currently has a social score of 30, while in January, their score was consistently hovering at 39. Bubly’s is in the opposite (better) situation. It has a 38, vs a 31 in January. And the extra bubbly Topo Chico score is also heading in the right direction with a 34. In my humble opinion their awesome brand story, if well told, has the best chance of building strong relationships with consumers and pulling into the lead.

I-Factor provides not only quantitative data on how consumers really feel about your brand but also uncovers the why’s behind the data to help you build your most compelling brand story for your optimal consumer. The real-time social listening component can help brands either manage a difficult situation (La Croix could definitely benefit from it), or capitalize on a competitor’s difficult time and get really clear and focused on a brand story that is so compelling, the right consumers won’t be able to help but remember, crave and share your brand. Want to learn more? Let’s talk.

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