Dasani: Kellam Graitcer

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A focus on wellness is serving Coca-Cola Co.'s Dasani well as the U.S. continues its love affair with capped water.

To differentiate itself from 800-plus water competitors, Coca-Cola's entry concentrates on image rather than purity or source. The strategy has made Dasani the country's No. 2 bottled water brand, with growth that outstrips the category. Last year, Dasani sales rose 117% to 65 million cases, while the category rose 26% to 807 million cases, according to Beverage Digest. In first quarter of 2001, Dasani was up 124%, compared with the category's 30% jump.

Behind that leap is 29-year-old Kellam Graitcer, brand manager. Before joining the Dasani team as assistant brand manager, she worked on Coca-Cola's Barq's root beer.

As Dasani was rolling out in the Carolinas in 1999, Ms. Graitcer, her team of four and agency Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York, homed in on health. "Wellness is a megatrend that's pervasive among adult consumers," she says. "It is becoming so image-oriented-origin is less important now. ... Water doesn't just hydrate anymore."

That relationship with consumers was built on print, online and TV advertising as well as sampling and sponsorships of Web sites like iVillage.com and segments on NBC's "Today." In May, Dasani rolled out its first true ad campaign-using spots with feel-good 1970s and '80s funk tunes to show how good the brand can make consumers feel.

Image is key, but so is national availability, which Dasani attained this year. Coca-Cola bottlers, long without an entry into a category that's been growing more than a decade, were enthusiastic about the offering from the globe's largest beverage company.

While Aquafina, from PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola Co., commands more share than Dasani-15% vs. 9%-Dasani is growing more quickly. Coca-Cola is considering extending the line with flavored or vitamin-enhanced waters as well as different sizes, like a 6-ouncer to quench the lunch-box crowd, its next generation of consumers.

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