By Ray Latif
Returning to the market after a 20+ year hiatus, LaCroix Beverages has resurrected Spree, a line of flavored, carbonated beverages. The brand is one that, now packaged in slim 17 oz. plastic bottles with see-through labels and featuring a variety of colorful flavors, certainly bares more than a passing resemblance to Sparkling ICE, the Talking Rain-owned juggernaut.
Despite the similarities in packaging, LaCroix is forging a different path with Spree, according to Vanessa Walker, SVP Marketing and Strategy, LaCroix Beverages Group. Calling it “the natural evolution for today’s growing sparkling water consumer base,” the restaged line is, unlike Sparkling ICE, an all-natural product. Walker said that LaCroix will position and place the brand to reach natural consumers wary of artificial and genetically modified ingredients.
“Consumers require authenticity from their brands and inquire about everything from the origin of the product to coloring and flavoring specifics,” Walker said in a statement. “Five years ago non-GMO wasn’t a topic of conversation, but today’s consumers are asking in depth questions about ingredient sourcing.”
Spree, which is also fortified with vitamins and antioxidants, is sweetened with a proprietary blend of Stevia Leaf extract and juice and contains zero calories. The brand will initially come in four flavors — Kiwi Kumquat, Lemon Strawberry, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Pina Pina Colada — and launched at Target stores nationwide with a suggested retail price of $1.59-1.79.
Noting that Target does not carry Sparkling ICE in its stores, Walker said that its “commitment to natural products” made the mass retailer a good fit for the relaunch of Spree. However, the deal with Target is not an exclusive, and Walker said that LaCroix will target the natural channel for new placement of Spree in the coming months.
Spree is the latest enhanced water brand to be revived amid the mindboggling growth of Sparkling ICE, which is projected to reach $400 million in sales in 2013. Earlier this year, the Coca-Cola Co., Inc. relaunched Fruitwater, a brand extension of Vitaminwater that had been long discontinued, and PepsiCo today re-introduced its Aquafina FlavorSplash brand with a new look and branding initiative.