Ancient Greek fabulist Aesop once said, “Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.” The notion of not letting outside influences take away from a core message has been applied to literature, music, politics and even business. For one beverage-maker, substance over style has been a philosophy engrained in its products and messaging from the beginning.

Pittsford, N.Y.-based Karma Culture LLC took that notion to task when it launched Karma Wellness Water in 2011. “Karma is a product born out of the idea that ‘what goes around comes around,’” says CJ Rapp, chief executive officer of Karma Culture. “A product based on the simple belief that if you do something positive, you’ll get something positive back in return, [and] that when you make good choices, you’ll see and feel the benefits.”

Through this ideation, the company set out to develop a product line that delivered on its nutritional promises, Rapp adds. “It is no longer good enough to put a pixy-dust amount of goodness in a beverage simply to make a claim,” he states. “The level [of] efficacy needs to be plentiful.”

Part of that promise stemmed from the delivery system for the nutrients. Not satisfied with the dosing-cap technology on the market, Karma Culture crafted its own proprietary cap technology: KarmaCap Technology.

“Other caps were not user-friendly and they did not deliver a hermetically sealed chamber to protect the ingredients inside,” Rapp explains. “Additionally, seeing is believing. Other caps hide the ingredients under brightly colored plastic, so the consumer has no idea there are ingredients in the cap.”

Nutrient packed

Armed with its patented KarmaCap Technology, Karma Wellness Water is available in six SKUs: Natural Lift Tropical Burst, Mood Elevation Passionfruit Green Tea, Fitness Accelerator Raspberry Guava Jackfruit, Healthy Hydration Pineapple Coconut, Immunity Booster Acai Pomegranate and Sharper Thinking Orange Mango.

Among those six, the top performers are Immunity Booster, Sharper Thinking and Healthy Hydration, Rapp says. However, Karma Wellness Water is not the company’s only foray in the bottled water market. It added Karma k2o, an alkaline spring water that has a pH of 8.0, as well as Karma Probiotics, its most recent addition. 

Available in Berry Cherry, Blueberry Lemonade and Apple Cinnamon, Karma Probiotics utilized KarmaCap Technology to deliver GanedenBC30 (bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) probiotic.

“Karma Probiotics is a game-changer because it is shelf-stable,” Rapp says. “No refrigeration necessary. Competing [ready-to-drink] RTD brands are dairy- or yogurt-based and require refrigeration. Virtually thousands of retailers can benefit from a shelf-stable RTD beverage for displays on the floor and on store shelves (instead of limited in coolers). Also, the consumer need not refrigerate Karma Probiotics, so they can bring it with them anywhere, i.e. work, school, in the car, hiking, etc.”

Although Karma Culture has seen the fruits of its labor blossom within its own portfolio, the company says opportunities abound for KarmaCap Technology in beverages and beyond.

“As far as the future, when you consider the Karma Push Cap as a delivery mechanism, it opens up a world of opportunities,” Rapp explains. “How about [over-the-counter] OTC meets RTD? Why not a pharmaceutical product entering the world of RTDs? The Karma Push Cap can deliver nutraceutical grade nutrition.”

Because KarmaCap Technology can deliver virtually any substance, including powders and liquids, Rapp notes that its platforms also can extend into the alcohol market. For example, an alcohol-based product infused with fruit or a beer infused with tequila.

“The Karma Cap delivers an interactive consumer experience,” he says. “Pushing the cap becomes a moment of empowerment. With a simple push of the button, the consumer controls their own destiny.”

Pushing for better

Karma Culture is taking its empowerment and karma message to another level with its latest initiative: Push For Better.

The company is rewarding consumers who Push For Better through various outreach and health-and-wellness goals, including local volunteering, starting new fitness regimens, environmental activities or simply random acts of kindness.

“It is about a way of life, to encourage people to do better,” Rapp explains. “That means better for others and [better] for themselves.”

The company evaluated social media campaigns for other brands. From its initial research, it discovered that the most successful social media campaigns boiled down to authenticity.

To engage consumers, Karma Culture is reaching out through its social media channels and asking them how they Push For Better and then sends respondents a pack Karma Wellness Water, explains Shanna Baccari, director of communications relations for Karma Culture.

The company also is utilizing imagery on social media that features athletic poses from people — some in athletic wear, some in casual clothing — looking as though they are pushing the button on a KarmaCap. Baccari says the photos connect back to the Karma brand but also aligns with the fit and feel of pushing for better in health and other aspects of consumers’ lives.