Water bottle designs take their cue from consumer drinking preferences By Allison Zisko
Toting water from the tap has become the hip way to hydrate, and the makers of water bottles have quickly stepped up with new designs and features that reflect the way consumers prefer to get their H2O.
Drinking spouts, wide mouths for ice, the use of glass or BPA-free plastic, the inclusion of wide straws and a height that accommodates single-serve coffeemakers are among the features and benefits espoused by companies like Contigo, TTU and Snapware, among others.
“Water bottles will always be a major part of the hydration business,” said Tim Feeney, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Design for Living/Kamenstein division, Lifetime Brands. The company offers water bottles that stack in the fridge, silicone-wrapped glass bottles and twist-spout bottles, among others. “People are trying to drink more water and have less of an impact on the environment.”
“Everyone drinks water, so the market is massive,” said Todd Starr, vice president, marketing and product development for Contigo. “[Water bottles] are a category that more and more retailers are taking note of. There are major mass merchants which are either getting into the category or expanding.”
Re-usable water bottles are popular because they are good for the environment, according to Starr, whose company likes to take that one step further by “giving consumers not only a green option, but a stylish one as well.”
“Consumers are becoming much more knowledgeable regarding the aspect of materials that make up their hydration products,” said Dar Molayem, co-owner of TTU, whose Rove collection, which contains several different water bottle designs, continues to grow. One of the most important selling aspects of water bottles today is that they be BPA-free, Molayem said. Tritan plastic, which is shatter-resistant and clearer than other plastics, has become an important raw material.
Different consumers have different water bottle preferences, said Starr, “so the type of interface is important.” Some people prefer to use a straw, others like a wide mouth and still others would rather squeeze the bottle. Contigo offers two main technologies: an auto-seal bottle in which you have to press a button to drink; the bottle automatically seals once you take your finger off the button. It also offers an auto-spout, for people who prefer a straw. You press a button and a straw pops up. It’s a top-seller for Contigo. Both of those features are offered in lines for kids. Contigo also has a “chug” interface, or wide-mouthed bottle, and a tumbler. “We think about our business by the way people drink,” Starr said. “The biggest trend we’re seeing is the whole area of flavor enhancers, everything from Crystal Light to MiO to Dasani Drops. There is an undeniable trend that grocery retailers are taking advantage of.”
To serve that trend, Contigo came up with the Shake & Go, a wide-mouthed tumbler with a screw lid and a straw. It features a trap-door design that snaps shut when the straw is removed to prevent leaks. The Shake & Go can be used when mixing powders or liquids in water, and also fits under single-serve brewers (and in car cup holders). It suits the popular brew-over-ice drinks, like iced coffee, because it’s easy to shake the drink to mix the different temperatures of the beverage—the ice and the warmer drink. The Shake & Go, along with the rest of Contigo’s line-up, comes in several different colors.
Design for Living is making infuser bottles to capture the water flavor market. “People want to personalize their flavors and also want a natural alternative to chemical flavors,” Feeney said.
“Customers desire to customize their drinks,” Molayem agreed. “Many bottles today have infuse baskets so the consumer can flavor their own drink.”
When Tervis launched its water bottle assortment in January 2012, it designed them to accommodate current as well as future beverage trends, said Agnes Lauwagie, vice president of new product development. The bottles are insulated, easy to clean and use, and come with a lifetime warranty.
“It’s designed for an active lifestyle,” Lauwagie said. “It’s great for working out, tailgating, sitting at your desk or wherever you’re on the go.” Tervis water bottles are available in thousands of designs.
Snapware will introduce the Eco Flip glass water bottle this month. The bottle was designed around three concepts, with the belief in healthy hydration in mind, said David Mota, brand lead for Snapware. The first is drinking from a glass spout. The second is the design, which has grooves in the vessel to look like a water bottle but is eco-friendly. The third is the BPA-free flip-top lid mechanism, which has a handle incorporated into the design. The bottles fit into most car cup holders and come with a silicone sleeve in three available colors (lime, turquoise or tangerine) for a secure grip. They retail for $12.99.