Mesquita formerly served as Johnson & Johnson’s executive vice president and worldwide chairman of its consumer division where he focused on marketing, brand building and commercial strategies for brands such as Johnson’s Baby, Neutrogena and Listerine. Prior to that role, he worked at Procter & Gamble for nearly 30 years, leading three divisions during his tenure.
BlueTriton Brands, which maintains a portfolio of regional spring water and national purified water brands like Poland Spring and Deer Park, is now focusing on growth and innovation initiatives as an independent company.
Mesquita’s experience in marketing and branding across a variety of CPG segments will come in handy as BlueTriton looks to innovate its offerings and grow its portfolio of brands. Consumers are showing an increased interest in better-for-you foods and beverages including water-based drinks.
The bottled water segment is oversaturated and competitive as a variety of big-name and private label brands battle for market share. It’s a big reason why Nestlé shed the segment in order to focus on its international premium brands like Perrier and San Pellegrino as well as local natural mineral waters, healthy hydration products and functional water. One Rack Capital Partners acquired Nestlé Waters North America earlier this year for $4.3 billion.
Innovation and differentiation will be key to staying competitive for Mesquita. Consumers are shying away from flat bottled water in favor of functional beverages that provide additional health benefits like stress relief and energy support. The pandemic only served to supercharge consumers’ thirst for functional ingredients and better-for-you products.
PepsiCo, for example, has launched a line of juice waters called Frutly aimed at teens, and last year introduced a functional beverage, Driftwell, for relaxation and decreasing stress. Ocean Spray offers functional waters under its B1U brand that provide a variety of benefits while containing no sugar or artificial sweeteners. New entrants to the market are also stirring up more competition including functional water brand Oxigen, which raised $15 million last year.
Mesquita will need to think carefully about innovation and ensure any new products are targeted at the right audience. A recent study from Brightfield Group’s Evergi platform determined functional beverages should not be lumped into a single category and that distinct groups of consumers are drawn to specific types of drinks. It will be important to tailor product branding and marketing to each consumer group’s motivations for seeking out specific beverages, whether it be sustainability, relaxation or immune support.
Keeping sustainability in mind for the highly plastic-dependent bottled beverage segment could be one way Mesquita can differentiate and tap into popular consumer trends. A variety of packaging alternatives are emerging, including biodegradable molded pulp rings for soda cans while major beverage makers Diageo and PepsiCo are debuting paper bottles this year. Some brands like Vita Coco’s Ever & Ever are turning to aluminum, and PepsiCo’s Aquafina announced plans in 2019 to test containers using the chemical element.
Mesquita faces pressure from a variety of players in the space that are already staking out territory. His experience in the CPG space will no doubt help him understand the consumer, but he will need to get up to speed about the complexities of the water space and try to rehabilitate a portfolio that Nestlé was more than happy to unload to focus on higher-growth categories.