Sapsucker rolls out nationally with a new sense of purpose

The water brand shifts its message to focus on sustainability, while also releasing a four-pack to fit with pandemic trends.


Sparkling water brand Sapsucker is pivoting its brand purpose as it rolls out nationally with Loblaw.

With the help of Gravity Partners, Sapsucker built a new overarching brand mission, “life designed with purpose,” part of a strategic effort to move away from being “cool and trendy” to instead align itself with making a broader impact, says CEO Tim Lute.

The first-in-its-category sparkling water beverage sourced from maple trees launched this past summer. Sapsucker originally came to market in specialty stores like Whole Foods and Pusateri’s, before doing regional launches with Sobeys and Metro. During the 50-store Toronto area Metro banner program, the grocer showcased it alongside growing and like-minded brands in a dedicated pallet to build extra profile.

Now, Sapsucker is debuting nationally in Loblaw stores with a new shopper program that emphasizes its sustainability proposition, emphasizing that it is sustainably harvested from Canadian maple trees. That aims to help the brand stand out in a functional beverage category that has a lot of international players.

The brand’s “Refreshing by Nature” messaging combines the taste appeal and functional side of the business, while also referencing the beauty of the outdoors, and Lute says its new “#drinktree” hashtag is meant to educate the consumer about tree water.

According to Lute, in a post-COVID world, the messaging tone reflects the fact that consumers are increasingly leading with their conscience and putting heightened demand on premium and local.

“You are going to see us use ‘#drinktree’ in all forms of communication, on social, on its whole suite of point of sale,” Lute says. “[The hashtag] brings to life our story, all of the functional benefits and the beautiful imagery that is on our social aesthetic, which is quite contemporary.”

Sapsucker shelf wobblerSapsucker is also once again teaming up with agency Vanderbrand on a new format, a small “transaction pack” to drive trial and incidence, a reflection of a change in shopping behaviours thanks to COVID.

Lute tells strategy that a four-pack box is useful right now, as there’s a decline in the single-serve business, with consumers not going to deli areas for lunch or shopping cold spaces out of impulse as they once did.

“A lot of our consumers live in urban markets and in smaller households. So, a four pack prevents hand touching,” Lute says, adding that back in March, Sapsucker really leaned into its direct to consumer business. It recently partnered with all the online grocery players, and will be added Sobeys’ Voila platform shortly.

In terms of broader messaging, Sapsucker recently did an Instagram takeover with, and partnered with Chef Cookit and LiveFit foods in the meal kit space for broader reach.

It’s also gearing up for more exciting innovations, and is currently working through package and brand design for new SKUs set to launch next year, Lute says.

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