by Dan Gibson
Seriously, why? I like coconuts, but drinking coconut water makes me think of sipping watery boogers. And not in a good way:
In fact, the successful arrival of coconut water on these shores has more to do with yoga than you might think. The wellness trend has inspired several profitable beverage launches—inspiring massive bottled water brands like Dasani and Aquafina, alternative sports drink concoctions like Vitamin Water, and single-ingredient juices like Pom Wonderful. Both Vita Coco and close competitor Zico were launched in 2004, near the dawn of the current yoga craze, and their early success was built on the (supple, flexible) backs of yoga-loving women.
In South America and Southeast Asia, coconut water is an anytime drink for all sorts of occasions. Vita was born when its founders chatted up a pair of Brazilian women in a Lower East Side bar, getting an earful about how much the gals missed the coconut water that was a daily staple for them back home. Zico came to be when CEO Mark Rampolla, upon returning home from his job as an executive for International Paper in Latin America, found he and his wife couldn’t live without the stuff. But the key to getting the beverage off the ground in the United States turned out to be yoga and pilates fiends who became the brands’ early adopters and first American evangelists.
“We couldn’t afford a $100 million marketing campaign to reach everyone,” says Rampolla, “so we needed to start small, with a targeted audience. We found out that yoga practitioners were fans of coconut water. They understood electrolytes but thought Gatorade was the antichrist.”