Sales of bottled water grew 20.2% from 2014 to 2018, according to GlobalData, New York. And while basic waters are doing well, differentiation is the name of the game.

“It’s almost a hypersegmentation, with companies searching for some niche to stand out,” says Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for GlobalData.

The area that’s growing the fastest is sparkling water, says Hemphill of Beverage Marketing Corp. “People are bored and want something else, and sparkling water doesn’t have the baggage of a carbonated soft drink.”

Sparkling water is doing well at the 34 Rotten Robbie stores in Northern California. “People are reducing their soda consumption and switching to these healthier alternatives,” says Daniel Moran, category manager for parent company Robinson Oil, Santa Clara, Calif. He sells many local brands and always checks the companies’ social media first to ensure they have a good following.

Enhanced and flavored waters, as well as infusions and alkaline waters, are also hot. Sales of flavored waters, for example, have increased almost 77% from 2014 to what’s projected for 2018, according to GlobalData.

But bottled water is taking a hit in c-stores, according to IRI, with sales up only 3% vs. 6% in other retail outlets. One key reason: a growing move to multipack over single-serve.


“Bottled water in all segments is growing. Budget waters are slightly outperforming the market and gaining share. Private-label bottled water has also gained share in recent years.”
—Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for Beverage Marketing Corp.