The healthy hydrating refreshment of cool, clear water will never go out of style. The global bottled water market was valued at $217.66 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.1% from 2021 to 2028, Grand View Research states. Although plain and flavored varieties of still and sparkling water remain widely popular, Plus Brand Industries’ Co-founder and CEO Chad Willis not only wanted to give consumers the functional alkaline hydration they’re thirsting for in Agua Plus, but came up with an ground-breaking way to further disrupt store shelves — with its patented All-Scratch! Technology.
Three years of trial and error went into the development of All-Scratch! because Willis and Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Adam Gauer wanted to create a technology that stands up to all the various situations that a bottle of water finds itself in — water, ice, condensation, transport, heat, sunlight and mild rubbing. No small task from a technical perspective, Gauer says.
“Agua Plus is an alkaline water, but at the end of the day our unique value proposition and what makes us stand alone in our market is our All-Scratch! Technology that eliminates the problem of ‘bottle confusion,’” Gauer explains.
The value-added packaging of Agua Plus enables consumers to scratch their name, initials or a picture right on the bottle’s red-and-white label to make their water bottle instantly identifiable. This not only solves bottle confusion but reduces excess waste and the transmission of germs and viruses, he adds.
All-scratch disruptive game-changer
This innovative, game-changing idea began ruminating pre-COVID after Willis had about 25 family members over for the holidays. He notes that over the course of a few evenings, he found himself constantly picking up — and then discarding — around 20-30 half-full bottles each morning. “People would put one down, forget which one was theirs and then grab a new one because they didn’t want to accidentally grab the wrong one and risk picking up a germ or virus from someone else,” he explains.
After discussing the issue with his brother, Willis notes that he “couldn’t shake the feeling that something needed to be done” about the “bottle confusion” problem.
“I knew it wasn’t just me,” Willis continues, “and that was the genesis of completing [non-disclosure agreements] (NDAs) with some of the best in the industry to work on our behalf to formulate, test, adjust, etc., until we arrived at the amazing version of the technology that we have today.”
Agua Plus, a brand of Plus Brand Industries Inc., Sheridan, Wyo., was founded in 2017. Designed to hydrate, balance and revitalize, Agua Plus is a premium alkaline water that is bottled at a pH of 9+ and undergoes a seven-step purification process that is enhanced with minerals, electrolytes and more for a smooth pristine taste and superior hydration, the company says.
The BPA-free and 100% rPET bottle design takes it a step further by helping consumers eliminate the age-old bottle confusion problem that occurs when consumers set down identical bottles and then can’t identify which is which.
Currently available in four-, eight- and 24-packs of 16.9-ounce bottles, the packs come in point-of-sale (POS) boxes with a product window that allows shoppers to see right through to the bottles. Shrink-wrapped six-packs also are available. Packaging clearly communicates Agua Plus’s commitment to sustainability and the benefits of All-Scratch! Technology.
Although a box can be just a means to transport, the outer packaging of Agua Plus creates much more. “This box is an extension of the brand (All-Scratch!) and creates an experience,” Willis explains. “We wanted our boxes to provide an experience that communicates the value proposition of the brand, the clean and attractive design and all be multi-functional. Our 24-pack box top tears right off to offer a quick solution for serving bottles and all boxes double as ready-to-go attractive POS advertising.”
‘Breaking the scale of monotony’
Noting that all types of bottled water have become highly commoditized during the past 40 years and that the market remains extremely competitive, All-Scratch! provides an opportunity “to break the scale of monotony,” Willis says.
“Yes, Agua Plus in an alkaline water, but what it really is, more than anything else, is a solution to a long-standing problem that everyone has encountered: bottle confusion,” Willis explains. “That is why everyone is so excited about the product. There are a lot of waters out there. Agua Plus is so much more than just a good alkaline water. It’s a solution to a problem. It connects with consumers on a level that goes so much deeper than the basic reasons why they purchase bottled water.”
Willis highlights that while Agua Plus will be the only bottled water to feature the technology, the proprietary All-Scratch! is available to license in other, non-competitive spaces to deliver the same benefits, namely bottle confusion along with the ability to reduce excess waste and to stop the transmission of germs and viruses.
The company is firing on all cylinders when it comes to a healthy hydration bottled water that has zero fluoride, zero chlorine, zero sodium and zero calories in convenient on-the-go, recyclable customizable, value-added packing — in short “all of the good and none of the bad,” COO Gauer says.
As demand for Agua Plus increases, it can be purchased on Amazon.com, AguaPlus.com, online retailers and through a rapidly expanding distribution network that services many large retailers, Willis says. Additionally, new bottle sizes ― 300-ml and 1-liter ― are in the works along with new, functional beverages that Plus Brand Industries will launch once growth targets of Agua Plus are reached, he adds.
But the differentiated value proposition for the proprietary All-Scratch! technology is why someone will pull Agua Plus off a shelf versus other brands of bottled water. “For distributors and retailers, it provides much needed benefits that they can connect with their customers on through marketing and helps return profitability to a very commoditized product and industry,” Willis says.
Gauer, Willis and the Plus Brand team have put a lot of time and care into every detail of their product ― including the pure taste, its on-pack design and differentiated label solution.
“All-Scratch! is our angle and our story. It creates a highly differentiated value proposition for Agua Plus as the only bottled water to feature this problem-solving technology,” Willis notes. “Plus Brand is committed to doing what we can where we can to take a sustainable approach to delivering better products. It’s the ‘More Than’ approach [involving healthy living, business building and sustainability]. We’re going the extra mile whenever possible to encompass a holistic approach to better living.”