The new sparkling water brand’s unexpected yet accessible flavor pairings, vibrant packaging and fresh marketing are said to meet evolving consumer demands and cut through a crowded category that continues to grow at double-digit rates.
“As the largest and fastest-growing part of the water business, mainstream flavored sparkling water is a segment we know we must double-down on,” said Celina Li, vice president, water, Coca-Cola North America. “AHA is our big-bet brand in this big-bet category.”
Eight bold flavor fusions – Lime + Watermelon, Strawberry + Cucumber, Citrus + Green Tea, Black Cherry + Coffee, Orange + Grapefruit, Apple + Ginger, Blueberry + Pomegranate and Peach + Honey – pair widely appealing fruit flavors with trending but less expected ones. The calorie-free, sodium-free offerings will hit stores in multi-packs of 12-fl.-oz. cans and in 16-fl.-oz. individual cans.
Extensive research and consumer insights informed the development process that brought AHA from concept to prototype in just over six months. In addition to mining category purchase data, Coca-Cola spoke to thousands of consumers – from sparkling water loyalists, to occasional drinkers, to those who’ve tried a brand or two but haven’t found what they like.
“There are unmet needs for consumers in the category today, both for those who don’t drink sparkling water regularly today and for those who do,” said Julie Siwemuke, sparkling water director, Coca-Cola North America. “When shoppers browse the sparkling water aisle, they’re looking for interesting and approachable flavors that offer a refreshing treat. They’re also drawn to fun, colorful brands with personality.”
AHA will both appeal to existing sparkling water drinkers and recruit new fans through inclusive and inviting marketing.
“As we started to create the essence of this new brand and what we wanted it to stand for, vitality and positive potential were at the top of the list,” Siwemuke added. “We knew we wanted the name and look to be expressive and full of life, and for our unique flavor pairings and sensory experiences to create an element of discovery, differentiation and delightful surprise.”
AHA will be the first major brand launch in a decade for Coca-Cola North America (Gold Peak, now a billion-dollar tea brand, debuted in 2006). The rollout comes as Americans’ thirst for drinks without sugar or calories – but with fizz and flavor – continues to grow. AHA joins Coke’s sparkling water portfolio alongside smartwater sparkling, an enhanced premium offering, and Topo Chico, a fast-growing sparkling mineral water sourced from Mexico.
Retail sales of Coke North America’s sparkling water portfolio – which offers complementary flavors and brand propositions for a range of palates at different price points and package options – were up 27% in 2018 (Source: Nielsen). These brands are part of Coke’s broader water portfolio, which is anchored by DASANI (the No. 1 national water brand) and smartwater (the No. 1 premium water).
“Sparkling water has had another very big year, and we are well-positioned to increase our presence in the category in a big, bold way,” Li said. “In addition to our popular, fast-growing offerings from smartwater and Topo Chico, AHA brings another exciting entrant to the category that is forward-thinking and will not just inspire people to try it, but give them a reason to choose the brand over and over again.”
AHA will replace DASANI Sparkling at retail, which has been on the market since 2014. DASANI Sparkling will continue to be available on DASANI PureFill and Coca-Cola Freestyle.