But how do you go about selling fresh coconut water to consumers in North America?
Well, the story would go something like this:
- Set up a sourcing and production deal in a country that grows coconuts—such as Brazil, Thailand or Indonesia—with a manufacturer that can process your product for export, i.e. flash-pasteurize and then bottle or Tetra-Pak it.
- Develop a brand identity for your product, something youthful or tropical.
- Craft a brand positioning for your coconut water: it’s all natural; it’s nutritionally perfect for rehydrating after sports or exercise; yoga moms love it.
- Build up a distribution network from scratch. This usually means delivering the coconut water yourself to a few retail stores in small section of a major city until you find a beverage distributor who will handle your product.
- Create a cute backstory for your brand that is hip, cool and funny—like, how the whole thing began with a couple of Brazilian girls in a bar—and features plenty of inspirational, youthful chutzpah.
- Build a colourful website, like this one or this one.
- As sales grow and mainstream awareness increases, take it to the next level by identifying, courting and signing a celebrity spokesperson for your product—a sports star like Kevin Garnett or a pop culture icon like Rihanna (playing on her sultry Caribbean origins).
- Expect to make USD $100 million in sales this year.
Here's a piece that appeared recently in Slate that looks at the growing consumption of bottled coconut water in the USA, the hot new entry in the “lifestyle beverage” category. Two of the market leading brands are profiled, Vita Coco and Zico.
It turns out that coconut water is an overnight sensation that has been at least seven years in the making. Both companies were founded in 2004 and have ridden the health-and-wellness zeitgeist that has fueled the growth of flavoured waters, natural beverages and sports drinks in America.
I learned three very interesting things while preparing this post:
- Apparently, coconut water is the only natural substance that can be safely injected into the human blood stream.
- Brazilian women use coconut water as a facial toner and in place of ordinary water when shampooing their hair.
- Vita Coco says that it employs machinery “that uses a patented method to extract the water” from the nut. In this part of the world, that would be called a cutlass.
Read it at Slate.com: How coconut water suddenly became ubiquitous on American shelves.
BONUS: here's a video interview with one of the founders of Vita Coco, telling how it all began.