If you think you’ve seen a lot more of LaCroix’s retro, pastel colored cans over the last few years, there’s a reason for that. Sparkling water consumption has more than doubled since 2010, with young, health-conscious consumers seeking out better-for-you options. Major enterprises have responded with product innovations like Coca-Cola’s DASANI Sparkling or PepsiCo’s brightly-colored (and aptly named) Bubly sparkling water.
Yet LaCroix, a much smaller brand, has only grown in popularity in the face of increasing competitors, with parent company National Beverage Corp.’s stock increasing nearly five-fold from September 2014 to September 2018. Whereas Bubly and other enterprise-owned brands use their deep pockets to maintain visibility on platforms like Amazon and Walmart, LaCroix and other disruptors lack the necessary spend to compete aggressively on these e-tailers. Instead, they have embraced a social media-heavy strategy that encourages audience engagement by featuring user-generated content. Case in point: 65% of the brand’s Instagram posts contain fan-created images, with real, smiling LaCroix drinkers (and their kids) featured prominently on the brand’s main page, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beverages & Beer.
Given LaCroix’s strategy, larger competitors are facing pressure to up their digital game. Bubly’s Instagram page, for example, is filled with short, colorful videos that highlight the cans’ bright hues while making references to holidays, seasons, and pop culture events that engage users, particularly millennials. Regardless of size, successful brands must prioritize creating content to drive organic search visibility and weigh the value of paid ads on Google and e-tailer platforms.