Flow Water’s Functional Platform Expands With Vitamin-Infused Line
By Brad Avery
Extending the brand deeper into the functional beverage space, Flow Alkaline Spring Water announced today the launch of Flow Vitamin-Infused Water, a new line of organic drinks containing added nutrients that the brand is positioning as a natural channel alternative to Vitaminwater.
The Vitamin-Infused line will launch in the U.S. this spring in three flavors: Cherry, Citrus and Elderberry. Each 500 mL Tetra Pak carton features a vitamin and nutrient blend containing vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B7 and C, folic acid and zinc gluconate. The products are also certified organic and contain zero sugar. The line will retail for $2.99 per unit and at launch will be sold online and in Sprouts Farmers Market stores.
Vitamin-Infused reflects a broader push into functional beverages for Toronto-based Flow, which last year launched its Collagen-Infused line. Founder and CEO Nicholas Reichenbach said Flow’s second functional beverage product comes as the brand has focused on attracting wellness-minded consumers who, through feedback surveys, were asking for more added benefits.
“When we started leaning into the customer, it really started to define the go-forward strategy on our brand platform,” Reichenbach said. “And that really brought in the functional ingredients as a core to the infusion of our water.”
The new line also puts Flow in direct competition with Vitaminwater, and by extension its parent company Coca-Cola. According to Reichenbach, the company interpreted Vitaminwater’s declining sales across channels as an indication that the brand was suffering from a lack of innovation. Vitaminwater’s core line, he said, contains more than 30 grams of sugar per bottle and also includes GMOs, putting it at odds with better-for-you consumer trends. Unlike Flow, he added, the brand also does not have a deep presence in the natural channel, leaving white space for a healthier product to compete.
“We feel we can capture a lot of great market share and we can get into our grocery stores where Vitaminwater isn’t currently sold,” Reichenbach said. “And having to go up against Vitaminwater [head on], with our innovation we really feel like the zero sugar and organic certification are super important for consumers who are now looking for clean energy and clean products.”
Vitaminwater dollar sales were down 2.1% to $484 million for the 52-week period ending October 4, 2020, according to market research firm IRI. However, the brand’s Zero Sugar line was up 1.7% to $198 million in the same period.
Chief revenue officer Tim Dwyer said that in addition to natural retailers and online, Flow will push Vitamin-Infused in the conventional channel and has already received commitments from several current and new national retail partners to launch the line. Though the products will only be available in the U.S. at launch, it is expected to roll out into Canada within the first half of 2021.
In addition to Vitamin-Infused, Flow is also expanding its collagen line with three new flavors set to launch next month: Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange and Pomegranate. Flow also previously experimented with a CBD-infused line available only in Canada, but the product has been put on hold, awaiting U.S. regulatory approval of CBD beverages.
The innovation push comes as Flow continues to expand its footprint in the U.S. Flow grew revenue over 40% last year, Reichenbach said, and the company increased its points of distribution by 75% over the last 12 weeks. Ecommerce sales were up over 200%, he added, a metric the company expects to hit again this year.
Flow is also benefiting from the increase in at home consumption and its multiserve 1 Liter carton is currently the top selling SKU. The brand aims to have 65% ACV in the grocery channel by next year, Dwyer said.
The company will also build out its Augusta County, Virginia production facility this year, Reichenbach said. The facility currently has three active production lines and is adding two more. The additions will also allow Flow to increase its co-packing capabilities through its subsidiary Planet A Co-Packing Solutions.
“When we look at the future of Flow, we’re going to continue to invest heavily into our U.S. growth,” Reichenbach said. “And as we roll out innovation we’re going to continue to invest into the quality of the product, the quality of the packaging and sustainability, and then build customer and brand awareness to expand our market share.”