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Liquid I.V. powers growth with partnerships, innovation and global expansion

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A perfect pairing of functional hydration delivered in delicious flavours, supported by cultural partnerships, has propelled Liquid I.V. to become the No.1 powdered hydration brand in the US. Now it’s adding new innovations and international markets to take its growth global.

Lady sitting beside a swimming pool pouring Liquid I.V powdered hydration mix into a glass of water

Did you know the average body is 60–70% water? We need to drink enough fluid to maintain a healthy balance.

If we don’t drink enough or replace the fluid the body has lost, we can feel dehydrated.

And that can happen just as easily during a busy day travelling to work as after a marathon gym session.

Our US-based Liquid I.V. brand was designed to deliver enhanced hydration and restore the electrolyte balance lost through exercise and sport, heat and active lifestyles. 

Its science-backed formulation is designed with an optimised ratio of electrolytes, essential vitamins, and clinically tested nutrients to turn ordinary water into extraordinary hydration.

A perfect mix of functional hydration and flavour

But the real accelerator that’s powered its popularity and made it a disruptor in the functional hydration marketplace is the brand’s perfect pairing of function and flavour.

“Sampling and experiential activation have been core to our strategy,” says Liquid I.V.’s CEO Mike Keech.

“This serves as a great platform to have rich two-way conversations and has given us a wealth of insights from which to innovate. What we were hearing was the desire for a great-tasting product that went beyond hydration to hydration with benefits.”

In 2022, the market for functional water was valued at US$ 4.2 billion (€3.86 billion), a figure estimated to grow over 6.8% from 2023 to 2032. 

It’s spurred by a growing interest in health and wellness that has seen consumers looking for beverages that can support specific functions such as energy, mental focus, digestion and immune health.

“Meeting those needs in flavour variants like Lemon Lime, Passion Fruit and Strawberry that aren’t just functional but also really delicious is something that’s a real unique selling point for us and keeps our consumers coming back for more,” he adds.

Man smiles as the woman beside him drinks from a bottle of Liquid I.V. and water during a pause in their outdoor activity.

Beyond sport: meeting hydration needs in the lifestyle space

In addition, a handy stick format that’s as easy to fit in a pocket as a gym bag, has seen the brand move beyond sports to meeting the varied everyday hydration needs of consumers with a busy lifestyle.

And that reach is reaping rewards.

Liquid I.V. has seen explosive growth, becoming the No.1 powdered hydration brand in the US.

Unilever acquired the brand in 2020 with Liquid I.V. joining the Health & Wellbeing Collective, a global business in the fast-growing vitamins, minerals and supplements market.

Since then it has quadrupled in size to become the €1.9 billion collective’s biggest brand. And it has ambitions to get bigger.

“We have a huge and exciting goal to hit €1 billion in the near future and our breakthrough activity system is well placed to take us there and well beyond,” Mike says.

Driving growth with new innovations, partnerships and markets

Product innovation is part of that growth drive. Capitalising on the increasing demand for sugar-free hydration solutions in the US, Liquid I.V. introduced Hydration Multiplier Sugar-Free to its portfolio there in June 2023.

Partnerships that tap into the zeitgeist are also key.

Creating experiential pop-ups and sampling opportunities at major music and sports events like Neon Carnival and the Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix as well as festivals such as the Governors Ball Music Festival, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and Lollapalooza bring the brand to life. 

In 2023, activations at these types of events saw 1.7 million Liquid I.V. samples reach millennial and Gen Z fans, helping them to stay hydrated in fun and flavoursome ways. 

And expansion into new markets is in the brand’s sights.

In late 2023, Liquid I.V. used the lessons it learnt in the US to launch successfully into neighbouring Canada. Earlier this year, it launched in China via cross-border e-commerce. In March, it added Australia and the UK.

And it’s not stopping there. With the goal of being available wherever consumers are in need of hydration, Liquid I.V. is now available in stores and online in Mexico and the Netherlands.

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