How a Sparkling Water Upstart Is Dominating the Market

Tom Pirko, one of the leading consultants in the global beverage business, told CEO Briefing that he expects a great run from Sparkling Ice. “They’ve found a niche and done a very good job of filling it,” said the president of Bevmark Consulting, based in Santa Ynez, Calif. “They’re also benefiting from a confluence of different trends—consumer reactions against carbonated soft drinks and sugar, and their self-identification with the esthetics of well-made products. Consumers think Sparkling Ice gives them a combination of all beverage types: the flavor and carbonation of a soft drink and no calories.”

“Sparkling Ice has found a niche and done a very good job of filling it.”

Klock said that Talking Rain is “really bullish” on further growth for Sparkling Ice for a number of reasons. “So much more category opportunity is available to us,” for instance, he said, including convenience stores and food service.

He’s got other believers, including Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog, who said recently that it “could be achievable” for Sparkling Ice to become a $1-billion brand by 2018 because of increased domestic distribution and brand extensions such as Sparkling Ice Tea.

While competitors haven’t yet gained much hold on American consumers, they are trying other tactics to slow down Klock. Nestlé Waters, for example, is arguing to regulators that the brand’s advertising is misleading because it is using “water” language to describe Sparkling Ice but the product doesn’t meet federal identity standards for “spring water” or “sparkling water.”

Klock is undeterred. “We have gone up against competitive threats already,” he said, “and we’re winning.”