Welsh Positions SodaStream For Changing Retail Landscape

Slightly more than 18 months after being acquired by global beverage giant PepsiCo in a deal valued at $3.2 billion, SodaStream is enjoying expansion in sales of its consumer home carbonation products, including carbonation machines, CO2 cartridges, syrups, concentrates and other water flavorings.

SodaStream’s progress is being directed by Bryan Welsh, a 28-year PepsiCo veteran who was named general manager of SodaStream USA in January 2019, shortly after the acquisition was completed. Welsh previously held management positions within PepsiCo sales, marketing and operations, working on leading brands including Pepsi, Starbucks, Mountain Dew, Tropicana, Gatorade, Aquafina and Quaker Oats.

Welsh said his first focus was on SodaStream’s people. “One of my goals over the past year and a half has been to build the best team in the business,” he said. “We have invested in the people to take us to the next level, from top management and sales, to e-commerce and customer service.”

Some of the newest management additions include the appointment of Richard Hinsliff as vp/sales, and the appointment of Matt Kahn as the company’s first chief marketing officer.

Another major initial focus for Welsh has been positioning SodaStream for “the future of retail. We see the future as e-commerce,” he said, noting that the company has been working closely with its retail customers on e-commerce platforms, as well as developing a more robust direct-to-consumer online shopping and home delivery program.

“Many of our retail customers— including Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target— have been making a big push with e-commerce, so this has been a big push for us,” Welsh said. “Then, when the COVID-19 situation hit, we were prepared and ready to meet that demand for home delivery.”

The COVID-19 cloud has had a silver lining for SodaStream, as the company has experienced spikes in demand, both from its retail customers as well as direct consumer sales.

“We have invested in supply chain and delivery and now offer CO2 exchange services right to your door, replacing empty canisters with full ones. The consumer never has to leave home,” he pointed out. “As a result, our business has skyrocketed. We are doing numbers now on a weekly basis that are equal to the numbers we were doing on a monthly basis a year ago.”

“Sparkling water has just exploded, as part of the overall trend towards health and wellness,” Welsh said. “As people are looking to reduce sugar in their diets, SodaStream allows them to create the beverage of their choice at home. Sparkling water is where Americans are right now in terms of consumption, and we think it is going to be huge in the future. ”

Welsh said the company is refining its marketing message to communicate two key attributes to the consumer: “The first motivating factor is consumption, and being able to make a beverage in the safety of your own home, and also to personalize that beverage so you get exactly what you want,” he explained. “The second message is to reinforce the fact that by making beverages at home, you are not only doing good things for yourself and your family, but you are doing good things for the planet by reducing plastic waste.”

On the horizon, SodaStream plans to continue to expand both domestically and internationally, leveraging the PepsiCo stable of brands, including classics like Pepsi, Sprite and Mountain Dew as well as newer flavors like Bubly and Fruit Drops.

“The partnership with PepsiCo is really hard to beat, and has only strengthened SodaStream’s capabilities in terms of supplying CO2, flavorings and an enhanced product assortment,” Welsh added. “Everybody should keep their eyes on us, because they are going to see tremendous innovation across the platform as we move forward. We have all of the puzzle pieces, and they all fit together.”

For more on SodaStream, see the July 13, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.