Speaking at Food Vision 2014, Kevin Klock said Talking Rain had shifted from entrepreneur status to a big branded player with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Asked how he thought the sparkling water brand fitted in alongside Pepsi and Coca-Cola, Klock said Talking Rain was “large enough to be able to defend the space”.
“We were fortunate. We actually stayed off the radar for the first couple of years and didn’t say much about what was going on. We went into the sparkling water category where Coke and Pepsi weren’t – it was an area that wasn’t even being paid attention which allowed us to get quite large quickly, without being seen,” he said.
Klock said Pepsi and Coke had now tried to enter the space, but Sparkling Ice stood strong.
“We were allowed to get big enough and strong enough to show the retailers that we were delivering the value.”
As sales drop elsewhere in the beverage space, particularly in sodas, Klock said Sparkling Ice gave retailers an opportunity to offset losses.
Innovation: Flavor variety and energy
The CEO said US consumers wanted flavor variety in line with food discovery trends that had shaped the market.
Energy was also a huge and growing trend, he said.
Asked if Talking Rain was tempted to enter the energy category, he said that for the time being the company would focus on “battles in the current category with Coke and Pepsi” but could consider heading energy as business developed and if it was a brand fit. He noted however, that the company would be up against Red Bull and Monster if it was to move in that direction.