Since launching in 2017, Vienna-based Waterdrop has quickly racked up a million customers and done $100 million in sales, while also earning the label of Europe’s fastest-growing CPG brand by offering an authentic antidote to the $600 billion bottled water conglomerates.
In addition to a line of reusable glass, steel and bamboo water bottles, waterdrop Co-founder and CEO Martin Murray told PYMNTS that 80 percent of the company’s sales come from its patented “microdrinks,” the compact, dissolvable, sugar-free cubes that are enriched with natural fruits, plants and vitamins.
“We’re in 10 markets in Europe and we have just entered the U.S., and our goal is pretty much to build a global brand around the notion of helping people to drink more water,” Murray said, noting that the business is almost entirely D2C, along with 5,000 retail outlets and 15 of its own branded stores, including its newest location in Miami.
“The beauty of the model is that we sell online directly to consumers, so we don’t even do Amazon,” he said. “We also operate 15 physical stores that we use for data collection, face-to-face market research and also brand-building.”
The Next $100 Million
Whether it’s the sugar, the single-use plastic bottles or the cost and waste of handling bulky shipments, Murray said the global beverage industry is broken, noting that waterdrop was created on the belief that nothing needs to be bottled and shipped, a message that is increasingly resonating with customers around the world.
“We’re extremely big on what we call ‘customer love.’ We have thousands of [social media] interactions every day with consumers, and have a team of 15 people that speak the 10 main languages in Europe,” he said, noting that the company’s active social commerce presence on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat was a huge business driver.
For now, the company’s core demographic is 85 percent women between the ages of 20 and 50. “There are several reasons for this,” Murray explained. “One is that it’s just much easier to get a bottle into a woman’s handbag than into the pocket of a guy.” In addition, he said that women are currently more aware of the benefits of hydration, since drinking more water is frequently cited as a top beauty tip.
“We are in the process of expanding our product line to include more unisex and masculine styles,” Murray said, pointing out that the company’s near-term goal was to better serve men, the elderly and kids, “since everyone needs to drink more water.”
Selling the Vibe
“It always confused me why everybody doesn’t drink more water, because it’s one of the best and easiest life hacks there is,” Murray said.
He clarified that his business has no relation to a popular water filtration system company with the same name operating out of China that actively sells on Amazon. “We run on Shopify, and I think from an eCommerce perspective, the one thing to note is that we’re not on Amazon. That’s always a big discussion, since we only go direct, which is probably one of the biggest things that stands out [about waterdrop] compared to the other guys.”
While hitting $100 million in revenue in under five years is no small feat, Murray said the company “could go even faster and do more revenue,” but has chosen to build a more aesthetically pleasing, exclusive brand that is built around a loyal community of customers.
“I think marketing can go a long way, but eventually people are going to see through it. Some of the things that might have worked 10 years ago wouldn’t work nowadays, since there’s so much more sensitivity in the market,” he said, pointing to the growing self-awareness about health and sustainability. “So you have to have meaningful relationships with your consumers and be authentic.”
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