NORTHFIELD, Ill. --For a product category launched just a year ago, liquid water enhancers are fast becoming a battleground for manufacturers, as they look to establish themselves as the brand name of the category.
The latest move comes from the developer of the category, Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods, which will launch a third platform of its line--MiO Fit--nationally in December.
Fit, which brings healthy attributes such as electrolytes and B vitamins to the now-familiar 1.62-ounce containers, will join MiO's base line of flavored water enhancers and the MiO Energy line, which rolled out to c-stores in March.
This follows on Coca-Cola's September announcement that it would introduce Dasani Drops this fall (see Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage).
Meanwhile, private-label manufacturers have made hay with the category--mostly in grocery stores--by capitalizing on Kraft's much publicized 2011 introduction of MiO (see Related Content below), a product Kraft CEO Tony Vernon this month called "one of our most successful new products ever."
Mio has garnered a 12.28% fruit-drink-mix market share, according to a report in Advertising Age. Coca-Cola will use an integrated marketing campaign to promote its similar offering.
Household penetration of liquid water enhancers--currently about 14%--is expected to grow to 43% in 2014, according to Nielsen data. But Mike Murnane, CVP national accounts, c-stores at Kraft Foods, told CSP Daily News retailers are still struggling to place the products in stores.
"The retailers are trying to figure out how to merchandise it," he said. "It needs a home."
The most frequent placement to date is on the checkout counter, in suction-cup racks on cooler doors or within an in-line energy section. Murnane would like to see placement on whatever rack is immediate behind the cold vault so that a customer grabbing a bottled water would turn around and immediately see the product that is intended to be added to bottled water.
"Our conversations are: How do we make this an immediate-consumption category?" Murnane said. "It's going to take a little while to get there."