A report by New York paper Daily News said that Coca-Cola is to launch four vitamin-enhanced Dasani waters, called NutriWater, by the end of the year. New York will apparently be among the first test markets.
Coca-Cola's NutriWater is to include vitamins and minerals with some added sweeteners. The cucumber-pear flavour, for example, will include vitamins C and B and an average 20 calories per serving, said the report.
The report notes that while the traditional bottled water market continues to grow, prices are on the decline and brand loyalty is nearly nonexistent.
"Few consumers can distinguish water taste," Morgan Stanley beverage analyst William Pecoriello told the paper. "Consumers know the difference between purified and spring waters, but very few see it as a differentiating factor."
Morgan Stanley research shows just one in five consumers use a given water brand exclusively, versus one out of every two for carbonated drinks. The launch of the vitamin-enhanced waters is clearly seen as a brand extension, rather than a move into the health market.
"It's easier to develop a brand around enhanced water - it's a unique product," said Gary Hemphill, senior vice president at Beverage Marketing in New York told the paper.
The enhanced water market in the US more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2001, to $85 million from just $20 million, and is expected to reach $100 million this year. "I don't think there's anything comparable to it in terms of growth," added Hemphill.
Coca-Cola competitor Pepsico already has two lines of enhanced water, Propel and Aquafina Essentials.
The top-selling enhanced water in the US market is Glaceau Vitaminwater, currently available in New York, California and six other US cities. J. Darius Bikoff, founder of Energy Brands which makes the product, said his company is growing an astounding 270 per cent annually. It is now working on statewide distribution in Florida.
Coca-Cola's juice unit Minute Maid includes vitamin-D and vitamin-C fortified juices.