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Hydrogen & Bubbles
Though hydrogen-infused water itself may be a new category, the explosive popularity of sparkling water may be the key to unlocking its appeal for mainstream consumers.
That’s the idea for HyVIDA, the first carbonated hydrogen water on the market. Presented in brightly colored slim cans that shy away from the more direct functional call outs on competitors’ packaging, the Michigan-based company is positioning itself as a fun, accessible brand that can be enjoyed on any occasion.
“Clearly we are still going after people who are very health conscious, but it’s about where will they embrace the product in their daily routine?,” said Rick Smith, HyVIDA founder and CEO, noting that the product offering falls somewhere in between the natural hydration of coconut water and the everyday appeal of La Croix. “Because it’s carbonated, where they embrace it is going to be different.”
Smith, a former engineer searching for a new business project, was introduced to hydrogen water by fellow entrepreneurs. The original idea was to import the product in from Japan, but when Smith flew out to visit the facility, he realized the process was too slow and expensive to bring across the Pacific. In order to make the numbers work, Smith would have to manufacture domestically and pivot into a more brand-centered mindset.
“In technology, if you are doing something like medical imaging, you can switch; if a different product has the same technology, people will buy it,” he said. “But in the beverage world, we are selling the mystique of spring water from Mt. Fuji. If you switch to a domestic source, you could lose a lot of customers.”
Recognizing an opportunity to reinvent the brand, Smith decided to make the switch. He spent several months working on an alternative process for infusing hydrogen gas that could work with carbonated drinks. That process is now patent-pending, giving HyVIDA a unique point of differentiation and the convenience of working with a U.S.-based copacker.
“I guess they say necessity is the mother of invention,” Smith said.
HyVIDA’s route to market strategy is designed to capture health conscious consumers. As such, he’s targeted higher end natural and specialty retailers, like Whole Foods and Sprouts, to help build the audience for the brand. The company is in the process of getting pre-commitments from retailers and is set to launch in April, when it will be sold for a suggested retail price of $2.25 per 12 oz. can.