Beverage Startups

The Story Of CBD Sparkling Water

The Story Of CBD Sparkling WaterIt’s no secret that this is the next big thing when it comes to CBD infused beverage category. We have seen a huge number of beverage startups in this category launching their new brands within a couple of years. However, surely there is a tremendous difference among them. Today, I have the pleasure of talking with John Simmons, co-founder of Weller.

Let’s start at the very beginning. How did the whole story of Weller begin? Who inspired you to launch Weller?

Weller is built on the mission for delivering the positive benefits of functional ingredients through delicious, trusted and ready-when-you-are products that aid consumers in actively pursuing their best lives. In 2017, we launched the brand with our functional and flavorful broad-spectrum CBD Coconut Bites. Our focus was to create a snack with simple, high-quality ingredients that didn’t just taste good but made our consumers feel good too. In 2019, we used those same superior standards to introduce our CBD Sparkling Water line and CBD Drink Mix. Our latest product addition is our first non-CBD product, Sparkling Immunity, which is the only sparkling elderberry product to deliver essential vitamins and minerals with refreshing flavor while providing core, daily immunity support for people on the go.

We were inspired by our immediate community and peers here in Boulder to create Weller. There’s an incredible amount of passion and natural resources to create anything you can dream of in this little town.

Weller is a sparkling water infused with CBD. The line consists of three different flavors. Can you tell us more about each? Which one is your favorite?

Weller’s new Sparkling Immunity line doesn’t have any CBD. It is our first non-CBD product that we offer. When we designed the flavor profiles of each variety, we wanted to create a beverage that’s refreshing and pairs well with elderberry because that is the star of this drink. The secondary fruit flavors of peach, strawberry, and lemon-lime round out the palate with multi-dimensional, crave-able flavors that will pique the interest of existing sparkling water consumers. The simple, all-natural ingredient list offers a core nutrient profile of vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc, and magnesium for an immune boost in every sip.

John’s favorite is Lemon-Lime, Matt’s is Strawberry.

Besides RTD line, there are CBD Drink Mix and Stick Pack options. Can you tell us more about them? How consumers can choose between RTD and other lines?

Both the CBD Drink Mix and Stick Pack have 10mg Broad Spectrum CBD per serving. The main difference is that the CBD Drink Mix is not pre-portioned for individual use. Just take ¼ teaspoon of the powdered mix and stir it into any liquid. The Stick Pack is convenient and great for those who may need an extra boost of mindfulness. The canisters have 14 sticks in each package.

Compared to our RTD line, the CBD Drink Mix and Stick Packs are ideal for the consumers who are always moving and are interested in a variety of beverages to mix it into included smoothies, coffee, juices, kombuchas, etc.

The Story Of CBD Sparkling WaterIt seems the CBD trend is here to stay. In your opinion, is there still fully space for new brands? What does it take to be successful in this category?

CBD is absolutely here to stay; however, it will be a reduced field of brands moving forward. There’s a shakeout taking place across the country as SKU assortments decrease, and consumers become loyal to existing brands. As a first-mover in the category, we’ve been able to capture trial, repeat purchase, and overall customer retention at a surprisingly high level.

What is the biggest achievement Weller has reached so far?

Our biggest achievement, as a team, has been adapting and thriving in this evolving market. We’ve taken a very tactical and regional approach to growing our brand. We’ve also achieved the #1 Best Selling CBD Carbonated Brand in SPINS for 2019, and continue to be #1 for 2020, YTD.

2020 is a very hard year for the whole industry. What measures have you taken to decrease the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Weller provided PPE, free meals, and communicated with our audiences about staying home and getting groceries delivered. Weller donated beverages to frontline workers and organizations since the pandemic began. These partners include Community Food Share, Conscious Alliance, Frontline Friends, Metro Caring, North Colorado Medical Center, Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver, UC Health Hospital in Colorado, and Waterfall Beverages.

Did you have any experience before starting a beverage company? What challenges have you faced so far?

(John) I spent 20 years in the beverage business as a first-time entrepreneur out of college, building a national chai brand, Third Street Chai, before chai was widely recognized.  Those years provided the experience needed to avoid the perils and missteps that are very common with beverages. It’s an extremely tough category.

One challenge that we’ve faced is that mainstream retailers are hesitant with selling CBD ingestible. While this is par for the course right now, we have anticipated that the launch of Sparkling Immunity, we will be able to get our foot in the door at new stores. We can sell non-CBD, Immunity line to retailers who have not, or cannot sell those ingredients.

The Story Of CBD Sparkling WaterWhat advice would you have given yourself before you started out in the beverage business?

Building a successful beverage brand is all about the brand, gross margin, and velocities. If one of those is deficient, go back to the drawing board;)

For more information visit Weller’s website.

About Ugne Butkute

Ugnė Butkutė is a project manager at DrinkPreneur. Ugnė is responsible for attracting contributors, maintaining quality of content and keeping readers satisfied with DrinkPreneur

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