Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Liquid Death, a watermark that started life in 2018 with a funny video to test the concept for the first time, has become dead serious about its growth prospects. The LA-based company, which sells canned mountain water from the Alps that will “kill your thirst,” just raised $75 million in Series C funding led by startup studio Science, which helped launch the company and now owns a “strong minority” position. (Says Science co-founder Mike Jones, “I wish we owned more.”)

Earlier today, we spoke to the co-founder and CEO of Liquid Death, Mike Cessario, a West Coast agency turned creative entrepreneur, about the company’s growth. Apparently there’s a lot to brag about. According to Cessario, Liquid Death is now sold at more than 29,000 locations in the US, including Whole Foods, Target, Safeway and 7-Eleven stores, and sales reached nearly $45 million last year, up from $3 million in 2019 when the company opened its doors. his first can.

He thinks there’s a lot of room to grow from here, including via flavored waters that Liquid Death is starting to roll out with names that fit the brand’s punk metal ethos. His first three products? Berry It Alive, sliced ​​lime and mango chainsaw.

Cessario has long credited the company’s growth with his grimly funny wording, along with packaging, arguing that aluminum is more recyclable than plastic (though, of course, no single-use container is good for the environment).

Still, he is extremely proud of Liquid Death’s organic growth strategy, one that has enabled the company to compete and even thrive in a world rife with other water brands. When asked how much Liquid Death spends on marketing compared to other drink brands, Cessario emphasized that there is no comparison.

“I don’t know what other water brands spend, but we won’t have Coca-Cola or Pepsi-esque budgets to spend. We don’t have $300 million to throw at something, so every piece of marketing we make has to be interesting or entertaining so people spread it organically.”

Some of these marketing pieces come together quickly, he said, in two weeks or less when “an idea comes out of nowhere.” Other times, a marketing piece can be a six-month process. Performed a stunt last summer by Liquid Death and one of a handful of celebrity investors, Tony Hawk, who teamed up to sell 150 skateboard decks whose ink contained some Hawk’s blood. The decks sold out quickly, Cessario said, but making the decks and drafting a phlebotomist who could “legally draw blood and be willing to be in front of the camera” took some time, he said with a laugh.

In an even more extreme gimmick, Cessario had the face of an eager Liquid Death customer tattooed on his arm.

As for how the company’s strategy is changing as it has more products to push, Cessario told us that the focus will remain entirely on building a brand “that is about making healthy drinks as fun or more fun than junk food and alcohol brands.” Because the demographics are younger and more masculine, and because “young kids and most men have more of a palette for sweeter things,” Cessario notes, that means new drinks, which Cessario said are sweetened with agave nectar and contain just three grams of sugar. and 20 calories per drink. (“We’re not targeting people obsessed with every last calorie,” he noted.)

Meanwhile, apparently there are plenty of places in the US that have yet to discover the brand. Referring to a beverage industry metric called ACV (for the volume of all commodities) that represents retailers’ total annual sales volume, Cessario said Fiji water has 90% ACV, while Liquid Death was only approaching 9% by the end of 2021.

A nicer deal with Amazon could increase that percentage. In particular, Cessario said, Liquid Death recently adopted a key metric that Amazon uses to decide when to wholesale a product, meaning Liquid Death is no longer charged for every case of water it sells through Amazon. , but instead sold water directly to the e-commerce giant, which then sells the water directly to its customers at a discounted price — and soared sales, Cessario said.

It matters, he continued. “For many food and beverage brands, Amazon is often their largest sales channel.”

Other investors in Liquid Death’s new round include Live Nation, PowerPlant Partners, Access Capital and Nomad Ventures.

In total, Liquid Death has now raised a total of $125 million and is valued at $525 million by its backers, it says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *