Sparkling Water Wars

Posted by
Jordan Breslauer on 12/11/18 12:49 PM

Sparkling water made a splash a few years back and beverage brands are certainly invested. But has consumers’ craving for fizz fizzled out? We cracked into the data (and cracked open a can) to find out.

 

Has sparkling water lost its sparkle?

Nope. Though sparkling water is definitely affected by seasonality, it’s seen significant growth in consumer conversations year over year.

Sparkling water - New user percentage

Consumer interest in sparkling water grew 37% from 2017 to 2018.

The numbers for June-August (a period roughly aligned with the product’s high season) 2017 versus June-August 2018, reveal a 37% increase in conversation volume about sparkling water. That indicates growing consumer interest, despite the seasonal dip evident in fall and winter.

Even more important, sparkling water has staying power. New user percentage held fairly steady, with a low of 80% in November 2017 and a high of 87% in June 2017. As we’ve noted before, strong user retention is a key indicator of a lasting trend rather than a flash-in-the-pan fad.

 

Brands that are bubbling over…or going flat

Between Coca Cola’s acquisition of Topo Chico and Pepsico’s rollout of Bubly, every major beverage brand has at least one product in the sparkling water space. The question is, which are on the rise among consumers and which are going flat?

To find out, we first looked at brands’ share of sparkling water conversations year over year (October 2017 to October 2018):

 

Major brands' share of sparkling water.

For Bubly, we compared March 2018 (the first full month after launch) with October 2018. This chart shows the conversation share in relation to sparkling water, not overall conversation volume. Brands commonly associated with other beverage products—for example, SodaStream and Zevia with soda—aren’t credited for those conversations here.

 

Given Bubly’s newcomer status, it’s no surprise to see them at the top of the list. While straight sparkling water brands did well enough, solid performances from Zevia, SodaStream, and Spindrift may signal consumer readiness for new flavors and packaging within the sparkling water market.

While some big brands are losing share, don’t cry over spilled Pamplemousse. LaCroix and San Pellegrino are the market leaders, so as new players enter the fray they’re bound to see some declines. It’s important to note, however, that LaCroix’s downward turn isn’t (just) related to a lawsuit they were hit with in October 2018. Their conversation share has been slipping since July, especially unfortunate as sparkling water peaks during the summer months.

Wondering what the deal is with Dasani’s sparkling line? Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to share the data!

But conversation share only tells part of the story. Let’s take a look at how the brands stack up in terms of overall conversation volume on social media:

Scroll through the carousel to see where each brand lands compared to the rest of the pack. And don’t mind the recent dip in conversation volume—because sparkling water is subject to seasonality, it’s an expected decrease.

Looking at volume instead of growth, two brands clearly bubble up to the top: LaCroix and San Pellegrino. In comparison, new kid on the block Bubly (introduced in February) spiked in May, plateauing through summer and fall, indicating limited success despite the growth numbers.

In contrast, Coca Cola’s 25% increase in distribution of Topo Chico prompted social conversations to more than double from the time of acquisition to its peak in July. That makes sense as Topo Chico becomes a national player rather than a beloved regional brand.

Rising popularity means the sparkling water wars are far from over. Brands are already fighting for market share, with upstarts like Zevia and SodaStream working to redefine what and how consumers drink.

Up next: Is sparkling water saved for special occasions? Learn what consumer conversations on social media reveal about their drinking habits.

 

Topics: social analytics, consumer analytics, beverages

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