Liquid Death raises $75M in funding round that values water brand at more than $500M


Dive Brief:

  • Still and sparkling water brand Liquid Death raised $75 million in Series C funding led by the startup studio Science, the company that helped launch the brand, according to TechCrunch.
  • The website said the California company, whose water is sourced from the Alps, is expanding its beverage portfolio to include flavored waters, with names such as Berry It Alive, Severed Lime and Mango Chainsaw.
  • The popular water category has seen upstarts such as Liquid Death thrive against established brands by focusing on functional attributes and environmentally friendly packaging.

Dive Insight:

While its name may signify a dying brand, Liquid Death’s recent success shows it’s anything but a has-been in the competitive water sector.

Liquid Death’s co-founder and CEO Mike Cessario told TechCrunch the water is now carried at more than 29,000 locations in the U.S., including Whole Foods, Target, Safeway and 7-Eleven stores. Revenue has soared from $3 million in 2019 to nearly $45 million last year.

The fast growth has increased how much Liquid Death is worth and the amount of money it has been able to raise over time from investors. TechCrunch noted the current $75 million funding round valued the company at $525 million. Less than a year ago, Liquid Death was valued at $165 million, PitchBook reported. The startup has raised $125 million altogether.

Liquid Death has grown quickly in large part to unorthodox branding — its tagline is “murder your thirst” — clever brand names and aluminum packaging. While bottled water remains popular, the category has long been dogged by sustainability questions around the more commonly used plastic packaging.

Liquid Death notes on its website that unlike big brands that simply repackage municipal water, its liquid comes from the Alps. The water is tapped right from the source and later bottled, maintaining all of the original electrolytes, according to the company. The health halo, coupled with its environmentally friendly packaging and clever marketing, no doubt has helped it stand out from other upstarts and big-name brands.

Mordor Intelligence projected the global functional water market will show a compound annual growth rate of 7% from 2021 to 2026. It’s a big reason why CPGs looking to boost sales are bulking up their presence in this space.

Nestlé acquired Essentia Water, a maker of ionized alkaline water, last March. Keurig Dr Pepper purchased premium water brand Core Nutrition three years earlier, adding Core Hydration, a nutrient-enhanced bottled water, and Core Organic, a USDA-certified fruit-enhanced hydration beverage. Coca-Cola has Smartwater, and PepsiCo owns Lifewtr in the trendy functional premium water category. Given its rapid success, it’s possible that Liquid Death could be attractive to a big-name company looking to boost its presence in the space.

At the same time, traditional water brands also have thrived simply by touting their packaging. Vita Coco packages its brand Ever & Ever in aluminum bottles, while PepsiCo has dabbled with the metal for some of its Aquafina products. Small brands such as Boxed Water is Better have turned to paper for their packaging.

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