Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola is to take on water kings Evian and Volvic by bringing its Dasani brand to the UK.

Dasani, launched in 1999, is already the second best-selling water in the US.

Now the company has announced ambitious plans to roll out the brand to 20 countries in a bid to make it the world’s best selling water.

The filtered newcomer, which is enhanced with minerals, will hit British shelves next February, backed by a £7m round of marketing support.

Norman Brodie, marketing director of Coca-Cola Enterprises, said the brand was expected to secure combined sales in foodservice and
retail of £35m in the first year. But one senior buyer warned that some consumers may be put off by the water’s lack of provenance. He said: “The brand has done very well in the US but it’s not a natural mineral water with obviously traceable origins. It remains to be seen whether it will impress European audiences.”

Brodie said there was room in the market for a brand which relied on an image of lifestyle rather than its origins.

But he admitted that Dasani’s path to becoming the UK’s number one water brand would not be easy, despite having the full weight of Coca-Cola’s marketing arm behind it.

“There are around 700 SKUs in water so the sector is not without its challenges,” he said. “By contrast, there are only around 300 different carbonates so that gives an idea of the scale of the task.”

Coca-Cola is not a newcomer to the water market. Despite the absence of a notable heavyweight in its own portfolio, it owns the Malvern water brand and distributes Vittel, Perrier and Buxton for Nestlé in the UK.

Coco-Cola said it expected the Dasani brand to find a comfortable fit with a number of key audiences, but particularly with consumers who are between 20 and 35 years old.
Simon Mowbray