Suppliers Keeping Hydration Afloat With New Technology, Design

NEW YORK— The evolution of hydration bottle designs has emerged beyond the basics with beverageware suppliers introducing new functionalities and customization in tune with what consumers are essentially looking for— a better water bottle at a comfortable price.

Suppliers have noted that as the health and wellness movement has grown hydration bottles, mugs and similar to-go drinkware vessels, have become a popular staple in many households and with the plethora of brands penetrating the marketplace, competition has intensified.

Brands are fighting for market share both at retail and online, with price becoming an important factor when consumers make their final purchasing decision.

“The market is oversaturated with commodity/sourced shapes,” said Steven Bram, CEO, Core Home. “The customer is thirsty for something special that functions as beautifully as it looks at a pricepoint that makes sense.”

However, the category is shifting, and suppliers have also reported an increase in price expectations, which also shows that consumers are ready for an elevated hydration experience.

“With lower-priced manufacturers exiting the market, we have seen an increase in the average selling price. We know that people are willing to pay higher pricepoints if the value is there. However, there is a cap on that, particularly within the top ten housewares retailers,” said John Roscoe Swartz, president, Built NY of Lifetime Brands.

Josh Melzer, vp/marketing and communications, Epoca, agreed and added that the company is seeing consumers paying more for bottles that meet specific needs.

“We’ve found that offering a wide range of functional hydration makes way for a consumer who can choose the bottle that fits their lifestyle needs the most. When you connect to the consumer through a product like a bottle, you find a consumer that is willing to pay to get exactly what they want,” Melzer said.

Often, as with many housewares products, hydration and beverageware products need to meet a delicate balance of function, design and price to satisfy consumer preferences.

“It all comes down to the age old equation of value. If the item looks beautiful and works well, the price needs to show value relative to what the item is worth. We carry items at all pricepoints and surprisingly, sometimes the higher pricepoints outsell the lower pricepoints since the value screams from the shelf,” noted Bram.

Many suppliers have reported an increase in the market of new functionality, technology and design in order to capture the attention of consumers.

Under its Primula line, Epoca recently debuted the Press & Go and Tea with a Twist for making and enjoying tea on the go. In addition, its new slim Tote bottle is designed to hold beverages in a sleek design that fits purses and pockets.

Another example of new hydration technology is Grand Fusion Housewares’ Icy Bev Kooler 2.0. According to Brendan Bauer, owner of Grand Fusion, the company integrated its beverage can insulator and bottle insulator functions into an insulated bottle, which is designed to keep cans and bottles ice cold for several hours.  

“Our hope is this will broaden the appeal and attract new customers who otherwise might not need another water bottle. We’re also trying to appeal to customers looking for a premium quality cooling solution,” he said.

Functionality is a focus for Core Home as well, as it works to bring next level hydration products to the marketplace.

“It’s easy to design a beautiful hydration product or a highly functional hydration product. The challenge is combining the two at a pricepoint that makes sense in today’s competitive landscape,” said Bram.

One example from Core Home is the POD bottle, which features a built-in, collapsible handle that stows within the lid for on-the-go users.

Another feature hitting the hydration category is a new system from Zak Designs that is featured in its Genesis assortment, which allows consumers to sip and chug from the same bottle depending on their activity and thirst.

“This gives consumers the freedom to choose their ideal type of water bottle and use it for absolutely every occasion,” said Irv Zakheim, chairman and CEO of Zak Designs.

Built is also elevating its technology with new features that are focused on tighter seals, better water flow and the new Tilt mug technology that has a one-touch, open-close mechanism said to make drinking on the go easier.

Functionality is not the only factor that is seeing improvements in the marketplace. As the beverageware category continues to mature so does the design and aesthetic of hydration bottles in an effort to help consumers express their personalities.

“From matte finishes to our Cosmic Galaxy pattern, we offer innovation through a designer lens, and unique silhouettes that are highly desirable for consumers,” said Built’s Swartz.

Other design trends suppliers noted that the market will be seeing include elevated mixed materials such as wood and other natural components, as a reflection of consumer lifestyle choices.

“Our Chalet mug is a great example,” said Core Home’s Bram. “The inner stainless steel vessel is housed in a variety of natural woods from olive wood to bamboo.”

In addition, the hydration category continues to evolve beyond just housing water for on-the-go purposes, it is also utilizing its technology to support other beverages such as wine, spirits and beer, and in some cases, food.

“The hydration industry is definitely pivoting to develop products that go beyond water storage. Years ago, we created a 25-ounce bottle that holds an entire bottle of wine because we knew consumers wanted to use our product for wine. Since then, we’ve continued to create alternative solutions including our tumblers, and roamers, and we’re expanding into the food category with the launch of S’well Eats and S’nack by S’well,” said a S’well representative.

Another vertical that several hydration vendors are tapping into is reusable straws, which many suppliers said is a natural fit for them.

“We’re really focused on offering a straw assortment to go along with our hydration line in order to cut down on the use of single use plastics. We’re committed to cutting down on the use of disposable water bottles and disposable straws in our hydration line, and offering a variety of straw types at different pricepoints follows along with our strategy for hydration bottles,” said Epoca’s Melzer.