When released decades ago, LaCroix sparkling water sat in the back of a beverage market stuck between sugary soft drinks and high-end unsweetened brands. Sure, riding just on being a cheap, health-conscious alternative kept it profitable all the way up to the mid-2010s, but something has happened recently that has brought it into the public spotlight in a big way. It's created a following where people rank its many flavors, and its sales have skyrocketed year after year. So what the hell happened?
To get a better idea of the money the neon-colored cans of bubbly water were making, in 2009 their yearly sales were at about $58.3 million dollars. By 2015 they had tripled their sales to between $175 to $226 million dollars a year. The stock price of National Beverage Corp., which owns LaCroix, has also increased by 75 percent in that period thanks to the increased popularity of the drink.
LaCroix is riding the sales boom for healthier alternatives to soda. As people look for ways to curb their caffeine-filled sugary fixations, brands like San Pellegrino and Perrier have also seen a large boost in sales. Coke and Pepsi are struggling in their attempts to capitalize on the market, losing four to 5.5 percent of their market share.
Strangely enough, most people won't hear about LaCroix through conventional marketing like commercials or printed ads. That's part of its appeal — it's made success through the massive towers of in-store floor displays in stores like Target and Whole Foods. The physical approach has made itself known through word-of-mouth.
With Instagram photos of fridges filled top to bottom with different flavors of LaCroix, there was no surprise that it became a premier choice of sparkling water in the US. It's now a "lifestyle brand" that can be used by anyone. The way LaCroix has connected to regular Instagram users have expanded their reach.
Then there was one subset of fans that helped bring it into a larger attention — writers. The most known one comes from the New York Times Magazine which was Mary H.K. Choi's love letter to the bubbly drinks in the neon-colored cans. LaCroix also created a paid campaign to the writers of fitness-minded, motherhood blogs for positive posts on LaCroix.
TV writers became an unlikely source of influence for LaCroix. All over the LA area, people in the entertainment business are at different levels of obsession for the fizzy drink — sometimes to ridiculous levels — and basically generating free press to the drink. It also didn't hurt that National Beverage expanded its western distribution in 2012.
Then, of course, there's the distinctive design of the LaCroix can. While every other brand has a healthy or sleek look to their cans and bottles, the gaudy, retro style of LaCroix is a clear attraction. The number of flavors makes for new color combinations for can designs.
10. What About That Can Catches People's Attention?
The visual appeal of LaCroix cans confuses and impresses people. Professionals see that the color clashing with the font create a look that makes it appear as the alternative to soda. Fans see the waves in the background and appreciate the relaxed elements that the brand is all about.
There are currently 20 flavors of LaCroix sparkling water, from pamplemousse to cerise limon. This is part of National Beverage's strategy of keeping their product available while appearing rare since not all flavors are stocked in every store. The irony is that one of its new flavors is a slight dig at one of its main competitors — cola.
They are also popular for their use in cocktails. The ridiculous amount of LaCroix flavors makes them a no-brainer as an ingredient for the perfect drink, especially if you want a guilt-free one. A calorie-light piña colada? No problem.
The fandom that LaCroix has built around its quirky little brand is wild. People are making cakes decorated like 12-packs, there's trendy La Croixs Over Boys shirts and someone even made a site where you can design any LaCroix flavor you desire. People are still skeptical about why the fans rave about it, but the only way to find out is to crack one open and take a sip.