PepsiCo's Next 'Global Big Bet' Is a New Premium Water Brand

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PepsiCo's new Lifewtr brand.
PepsiCo's new Lifewtr brand. Credit: PepsiCo

PepsiCo is introducing a premium bottled water brand called Lifewtr that appears aimed at Coca-Cola's Smartwater.

Debuting in February, PepsiCo's product is "pH balanced with electrolytes added for taste," according to a press release issued today, in which the new brand is described as "a global big bet." Smartwater is billed as "vapor-distilled" with electrolytes.

Lifewtr is not related to PepsiCo's SoBe Lifewater flavored drink brand. But PepsiCo will rebrand and relaunch SoBe Lifewater next year without the Lifewater name to avoid confusion, beverage trade publication Beverage Digest reported today.

PepsiCo will seek to differentiate Lifewtr via its packaging. The label, which the marketer described as "the brand's biggest equity" and where the brand name appears in all-caps, will feature rotating designs created by emerging artists. The labels will be released in series of three and change several times a year. The marketer will tap artists from design, fashion, fine arts, photography and more, according to PepsiCo.

Artists designing the first series of labels include Jason Woodside, whose large-scale works have appeared in New York, Los Angeles and Sydney; the duo Craig Redman and Karl Maier, who go by Craig & Karl; and an artist known as Momo, who is known for large-scale murals in public spaces.

"Our Lifewtr artists will turn the traditional bottle label into a unique masterpiece that speaks to the creativity -- and source of creation -- linked to the brand's core," Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo's global beverage group, said in a statement. "Lifewtr is a huge priority for us and an exciting global big bet, and we've worked hard to make a premium bottled water experience that combines the right mix of a clean, pure taste with eye-catching packaging and an authentic connection to the consumer."

The launch comes as the bottled water category surges. Category volume grew 8% in 2015 as per capita consumption reached a new peak of 36.5 gallons, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. Smartwater controls 45% of the U.S. premium bottled water market by volume, according to Beverage Digest. The next closest brand is Fiji at 19%.

A PepsiCo spokeswoman declined to share details on how Lifewtr will be advertised. The company timed the announcement of the new brand to coincide with today's Beverage Digest Future Smarts Conference in New York, whose attendees include industry professionals and Wall Street analysts.

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