Remember Naya Spring Water? Once a top imported brand, Naya had all but disappeared from the U.S. Now, its new owner, private equity firm Catterton Partners, is planning aggressive domestic expansion using the first 100 percent recycled plastic bottle as a key point of differentiation.
The Naya brand is strong in its home country of Canada. However, in the U.S., it is currently sold only in New York, where the 100 percent rPET [recycled Polythylene terephthalate] bottle will debut this month.
Next year, the brand is planning nationwide growth, said Naya president Daniel Cotte: "We used to be a big brand [in the U.S.]. We soon will be again. We have ambitious plans for the rest of the United States."
Bottled waters have been innovating at an accelerated pace to counteract environmental concerns. Nestle, for example, recently reduced the weight of its Eco-Shape bottle by 24 percent. "Lightweighting" plastic bottles has been a prevalent trend among Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products as well.
Naya is hoping its packaging can help it reclaim some of its former glory.
According to Beverage Business Insights, the brand went from $150 million in U.S. sales in the late 1990s to nearly nothing. Naya was considered somewhat edgy in its day, having been one of the first brands to openly target gay consumers, said Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights. "Then it did a deal with Coca-Cola Enterprises to go national through a big Coke bottler. Coke didn't like that, launched Dasani and made CCE throw out Naya. The brand quickly died in the U.S."
Naya's new packaging is part of the brand's overall focus on the environment. "We were the first to move to 25 percent, then 50 percent and now 100 percent rPET," said Cotte.
The company also gives 1 percent of its revenue to environmental programs. Additionally, it created the Naya Waterways Fund and is promoting recycling efforts in Canada and the U.S.
"We're always striving to reduce our carbon footprint," said Cotte.
"They should be applauded," said Bill Sipper, senior partner at Cascadia Consulting. "But this doesn't tackle the overall problem of plastic not being able to break down over time. At the end of the day, if their bottles break down as poorly as everyone else's, what's the advantage to the environment?"