Mexican Mineral Water Is Coming to America

Courtesy Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Peñafiel is the top sparkling mineral water in Mexico, and for owner Dr Pepper Snapple Group it’s also a bright spot in an otherwise dreary world of soft drinks.

Sales of Peñafiel, almost entirely from inside Mexico, increased 23 percent in the first nine months of the year, far outpacing Dr Pepper Snapple’s overall little-changed sales. As the Plano (Tex.)-based company increases its focus on Hispanic consumers in the U.S., it’s planning to bring the bottled Mexican water to more markets.

North of border, however, progress has been slow. One of the problems with broadening its appeal beyond Mexican expats who already are fond of (or at least familiar with) Peñafiel is that to many Americans, bottled Mexican water may not exactly sound refreshing. What’s different today is that even if U.S.-born consumers don’t embrace the imported beverage, the Mexican-born population itself is a large market to drive sales.

Demand for carbonated bottled water, including brands such as Perrier and Nestlé’s S.Pellegrino, is bubbling in the U.S. Sales increased 12 percent, to $715.8 million, last year after growing 17.5 percent in 2012, according to data from Euromonitor International.

In 1995, when the idea of a Mexican water boom came up, marketers likened Peñafiel to Perrier. “I think this could be a wonderful crossover product,” a spokesman at the advertising agency that handled the drink said in an interview with Beverage World. “Ten to 15 years ago, no one knew what Perrier was. Now it’s a sophisticated, well-established brand.” Even then, the plan was to expand Peñafiel to parts of the U.S. with large Latino populations.

That goal remains, particularly as Dr Pepper Snapple boosts its marketing to U.S. Hispanics, who are also large consumers of the company’s Clamato drink. Currently, Peñafiel is only available in certain markets with large Hispanic populations, mainly in the Southwest, says company spokesman Chris Barnes.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.