Alkaline Water’s Richard Wright Leads a Wave of Growth amidst Turbulent Times

Sees now as good time to develop retailer relationships and elevate consumer knowledge

by Karen Dybis

With its rapid-fire growth and national brand awareness, Richard A. Wright knew it was time his Alkaline Water Company make another bold move: The Arizona-based business that produces bottled alkaline water, flavored-infused waters and CBD-infused waters recently announced its investment in complete brand refresh.

A less bullish brand leader might have postponed such an ambitious effort given the pandemic and its sudden impact on the economy, consumer confidence and public health.

Although recent changes with COVID-19 may slow down some retail channels, it’s not slowing down Wright, who acknowledges that consumer confidence is an ever-shifting landscape these days.

But he believes the work Alkaline Water Company is doing now to develop retailer relationships and elevate consumer knowledge of its products and CBD-infused water will reap dividends in the months and years to come.

Evidence of heightened A88CBD product sales during the height of the COVID-19 crisis may provide an early indicator of long-term success of the company’s efforts.

With national tension at its highest level in decades, consumer study data says that consumers are buying CBD products to combat anxiety, relieve stress, improve health and alleviate pain, and are finding it in pre-packed products like A88CBD’s product line.

A new survey released by a leading consumer insights and market intelligence firm for the CBD and Cannabis industries, the Brightfield Group, reports that nearly half (48 percent) of CBD users are stocking up on CBD. Close to 40 percent plan to use CBD more frequently during the COVID-19 crisis.

“With so much of the country in quarantine right now, many are turning to self-care indulgences to keep themselves sane and even just pass the time, which is likely to help boost some CBD self-care products during quarantine time,” says Bethany Gomez, managing director at the Brightfield Group.

Staying hydrated is particularly important, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that water helps one’s body with several functions, including regulating body temperature. Consumers are likely to look to bottled water both to stay hydrated as recommended by healthcare officials but also for its safety as a prepacked item.

Alcohol and Cannabis sales are escalating as COVID-19-related stress levels soar, according to industry reports.

Wright expects that product interest in CBD will escalate, too, as consumer demand increases for helpful products that do not hinder people’s ability to function on the job and in their newly appointed roles as chief education and safety officers in their homes.

“Once you drink our water products you always want to drink them,” Wright says. “The good news is truckers are still working” — and the food and grocery industry are considered essential services. “We’re still in a good space.”

Moreover, Wright says he’s looking forward to moving into traditional marketing channels over the next fiscal year — a move that not only shows his confidence in his product but in the industry as whole. This new look will help with this marketing investment, he says

This was more than a new look for a new year, Wright says. This was about doing something much riskier: He removed from the label, in a very purposeful way, some of the wording that consumers and customers knew. Rather than hitting the buyer over the head with what the product was, Wright says, he decided they needed to know more about its benefits.

“Consumers trust us,” Wright says. “We have the purest water in the country. Everything’s natural across the board.”

What makes this change even more significant is how much of Alkaline Water Company’s business resulted from word of mouth — the business to date has not been reliant on traditional advertising. In preparation for its next phase of growth, the brand is focusing on what Alkaline has learned through its extensive market research and an investment in a big marketing campaign, aimed at launching in fiscal 2021.

The new look, which maintains key elements such as the colors and design consumers are familiar with for Alkaline, will launch in traditional marketing channels over the next few months. The goal is for new and long-time customers to see what its flagship product, Alkaline88, offers in terms of health and wellness benefits.

The redesign with the new white panel on its single-serve bottles highlights its health benefits and positive qualities, like its mouthfeel, which is soft and smooth, according to Wright.

The goal of this bright color, fresh wording and health-forward approach is to catch the eye of consumers, who have more choices than ever in the water and CBD-infused displays, Wright says.

“The label now tells the consumer they are drinking the smoothest, cleanest, ionized alkaline water on the planet,” Wright says.

To achieve that, Wright says the company has trademarked key phrases, including “Smooth Hydration,” “Clean Beverage” and “Ionized H2O,” all of which are now displayed on its labels.

“We chose to do a brand refresh versus an overall rebranding as our current brand is one of the fastest-growing brands in the country,” Wright says, adding one of his trademark phases, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Since its launch in 2012, Alkaline88 became a national brand extremely quickly, Wright says. Right now, Alkaline88 is sold in national retailers such as Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway, Family Dollar and CVS as well as most regional grocery chains such as a Publix, HEB and Sprouts. These retail channels sell millions of bottles of Alkaline88 every year, Wright says.

That accomplishment is particularly notable given the marketplace, Wright says. The bottled water category is worth more than $17 billion nationally. Because of the ease of entry, bottled water is a very competitive and tough market to be successful in. “There are 1,500 new beverage companies established every year — and there have been 10,000 new ones started in the last six-plus years. The Alkaline Water Company is one of two companies that have exceeded $40 million in annual revenue during that period.”

The new campaign also will give Alkaline Water Company more data to crunch, allowing it to create even more effective regional and national campaigns, something that Wright hopes will move Alkaline88 into an even stronger market position going forward. The business plans to measure all of its return on investment and development over this time, fueling the demand for the product as it grows.

“I’m thrilled with our new look. We want to continue to build our brand awareness and attract new consumers across all channels. Even though we see strong demand for our core brand, Alkaline88®, we want to support and accelerate this growth even more,” Wright says.

“This type of investment in brand growth amidst such turbulent times is reflective of the kind of leadership we are seeing among the nation’s top CBD brands,” says Larry Berg, founder of CBD Marketing Hub, a digital-to-door marketing services company. “Forward thinking CBD brands like Alkaline are already starting to see — and seize — new market opportunities created by shifting consumer patterns.”

Founded in 2012 at a time when the word “alkaline” was largely associated with the Energizer bunny, under Wright’s leadership the Alkaline Water Company’s doubled in size over the last six years, establishing a new niche in the bottled water category.

Alkaline is now recognized as the tenth-largest brand in the U.S., with a 5 percent share of the bottled water category.

The company hopes that its launch of a comprehensive line of CBD ingestibles and topical products will gain Alkaline exponential share within what the Brightfield Group estimates will become a $24 billion market space by 2023.

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