​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Vita Coco​ leading the way with coconut based beverages

It all began in 2004 when Mike Kirban and Ira Liran met two young Brazilian women in a New York bar, who sang the praises of the “agua de coco” back home. Inspired, Mike and Ira went on to found Vita Coco and launch their own packaged coconut water in the US, starting a craze that is sweeping the world.

Vita Coco’s rise has been extraordinary and it continues to grow at pace, with sales up 78% (CAGR Compound Annual Growth Rate​) between 2011 and 2014. In the last year, Americans drank nearly 94 million litres of packaged coconut water, up 15% on the previous 12 months. Vita Coco remains the clear US leader, with 44% market share by volume. Despite attracting plenty of competition, it still outperformed the market last year, with 16% growth.

“According to Technavio, the coconut water market in the Americas was valued at $796 million in 2014,” says Arthur Gallego, Global Director, Corporate Communications at Vita Coco. “The US is the largest piece of that, followed by Brazil. And we estimate that figure to be at the lower end as it doesn’t include retailers like Costco and other chains that don’t report their sales. But it’s really the growth figure that’s most impressive: Technavio forecasts that this market will reach $2.46 billion in 2019.”

A refreshing, health-conscious and naturally low-sugar beverage​

Vita Coco clearly addressed a timely, unmet need, bridging two on-trend opportunities: providing a refreshing, health-conscious and naturally low-sugar beverage; and a hydration alternative to traditional sports drinks. But the way the brand has presented, promoted and marketed itself, not to mention the way it continues to evolve and diversify, has been central to its success – and indeed the development of the whole category. Celebrity endorsement was vital in the early stages. A well-planned PR campaign starting in January 2010 introduced Vita Coco’s first celebrity investors – Madonna, Demi Moore, Matthew McConaughey and musician Anthony Kiedis – who promoted Vita Coco at public appearances and in the media, and helped the brand attract global press coverage. Rihanna became the public face of the brand in 2011 and appeared in an advertising campaign that year and again in 2012.

Since 2010, Vita Coco has run a pro-athlete partnership programme, focusing on American football, baseball and basketball, raising awareness of its sports rehydration benefits to increase its appeal to male consumers.

It’s water. From a coconut​

Campaigns have consistently focused on the product’s simplicity and naturalness, leveraging digital, social and out-of-home advertising, including memorably branded taxicabs with the slogan “Taxi to the beach”. In 2015, the brand launched its first global advertising campaign – the first to include broadcast TV – called “Stupidly Simple®”, using such taglines as “It’s water. From a coconut” and “Our plant is a plant” to drive awareness of its all-natural appeal with humorous, tongue-in-cheek messages.

Now sold in more than 100,000 retailers across the US, Vita Coco’s product portfolio also continues to grow. To its initial offer of a single portion pack of coconut water it has since added juice blends, “lemonade” with lemon pulp, and sports, coffee and children’s drinks, all of which include coconut water. In 2014 the brand launched its first non-beverage product: Vita Coco Coconut Oil. In May 2016 All Market Inc., Vita Coco’s parent company, launched a new brand of organic coconut water produced through a farming cooperative in Thailand.

Expanding globally

Meanwhile, Vita Coco continues to expand globally too, and is now available (and typically the market leader) in 31 countries, including Canada, most of Europe, Japan, China and New Zealand.

Vita Coco coconut water in Tetra Prisma Aseptic carton