Blog: Chris Brook-CarterAquabatics

Chris Brook-Carter | 19 January 2004

I understand that everyone needs a point of difference. Successful innovations, after all, are about spotting that unexploited niche and taking full advantage of it before anyone else. In the drinks world, these innovations tend to be based around three premises: the physical product, image and functionality. Or, in other words, what the brand tastes like, what it says about you and what it does to you.

Within the soft drinks trade, the current mania is for functionality. And in an over-crowded market, it was only a matter of time before the functional claims moved from the obvious to the bizarre.

On Friday, we ran a story about a water brand, launched by Nestle, which claims to aid slimming. Water and slimming are, I suppose, a fairly natural fit, although whether consumers actually buy into the concept remains to be seen. That said, if there are visible results for those that do, Dr Atkins & co may have a fight on their hands.

It may be altogether easier to judge the physical results, though, of a second functional water brand to get press coverage last week. A mountainous Bosnian town is the site for the reopening of a bottling factory for a natural spring with alleged aphrodisiac qualities, with the catchy name "Muska Voda" (Men's Water). "We are sure that the Men's Water will chase Viagra out, at least from this region," said the optimistic Ahmo Gogic, co-owner of the newly-established Bosnian-German company which plans to restart bottling what was once the most profitable resource in town.

And then this morning we received an email from a company claiming it has developed a biological process for producing a consumable form of water which releases oxygen in the presence of enzymes; meaning you can drink it and it releases oxygen into your body, or apply it to the skin and it speeds up the healing process.

Can these sorts of products really develop profitable niches? It seems a little far- fetched at present even if the claims are true. However, the idea of bottled water taking off the way it has done was far-fetched a decade ago. And, I suppose, all it would take is the odd celebrity endorsement  – Jennifer Aniston preaching the virtues of slimming water, or tales of Hugh Hefner passing out Man Water at his playboy parties – for these brands to turn from quack products to potential goldmines overnight.

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