Hint Water began 15 years ago when founder Kara Goldin decided to make changes to her lifestyle. The mother of three (now mother of four) had recently left her high-profile job as vice president of shopping and e-commerce partnerships at AOL, where she had built revenue to more than $1 billion in less than seven years. Then she took time off to plot her next move. She expected her path to veer towards work with nonprofits, but instead her path veered into the beverage industry. Noticing low energy levels and skin issues, she began to suspect her reliance on “diet” beverages that were packed with added sugars and artificial sweeteners. However, when she tried to drink only water, she struggled with the taste. This realization led to the creation of Hint.
Today, Hint is the largest non-alcoholic beverage company in the United States that isn’t affiliated with Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or Dr. Pepper Snapple. Since starting Hint Water in her basement in 2004, and running the business from her dining room table and out of her garage, her offering, which contains no sugar, no preservatives, and no calories, has become a leader in an emerging category known as natural essence waters. While Goldin and husband, Theo, a former attorney at Netscape and Hint’s COO, originally targeted natural and specialty stores, the product is proving to have wider appeal. Today, the waters, flavored with extracts of watermelon, raspberry-lime, and more exotic blends like pomegranate-tangerine, are among the fastest growing of the flavored waters at Whole Foods and sold at mainstream markets, including Publix, CVS, Food Emporium, Stop & Shop, Sheetz convenience stores, and online sites like Amazon.com. Hint has made cameos on Grey’s Anatomy, Boston Legal, and CSI and is the “official flavored water” on the Google campus.
Goldin states that “there are more than 2,000 beverage companies in the United States today, but it’s hard to name a beverage company that’s actually about health. There’s a lot of healthy perception versus healthy reality. We’re really focused on changing health; we’re actually, like I said, hearing from lots of consumers that we’re doing it.”
Hint has recently launched into new areas, including a sunscreen. Goldin says, “We’re launching sunscreen to call attention to chemicals like oxybenzone and parabens, which are in 95 percent of the sunscreens available to the average consumer in drugstores like CVS and Walgreens and elsewhere. I’m really, really excited. It speaks to the mission of the overall company, which is [to be] a consumer advocate and help people actually understand products. In doing so, we also offer products for sale that really help people get as healthy as they want to be.” Hint has also added new products in the categories of deodorant, hand sanitizer, masks, and more.
1) Evaluate the quality of the new brand extensions using the criteria in the chapter. Would you have advised going into all of these markets? If you wouldn’t have, which ones would you have advised not entering? Be sure to provide your rationale.
2) Into what other product categories do you think Hint should expand next? Provide your rationale. Make sure to do your research here (i.e., don’t choose categories that Hint has already expanded into or has publicly announced they are expanding into).