Liquid Death, a water brand that came into being in 2018 with a fun video to test the concept first, has gotten very serious about its prospects for growth. The Los Angeles-based company, which sells canned mountain water from the Alps that will “kill your thirst,” just landed $ 75 million in Series C funding led by start-up studio Science, which helped when the company was launched and now has a “strong minority” position. (Says Science co-founder Mike Jones, “I wish we had more.”)
We spoke earlier today with the co-founder and CEO of Liquid Death, Mike Cessario, a West Coast creative agency turned entrepreneur, about the company’s growth. Apparently there is something to brag about. According to Cessario, Liquid Death is now distributed to more than 29,000 locations in the United States, including Whole Foods, Target, Safeway and 7-Eleven stores, and revenue reached nearly $ 45 million last year, compared to $ 3 million in 2019 when the company sold its first can.
He thinks there’s a lot of room to grow from here, including through the flavored waters that Liquid Death is starting to roll out with names that match the brand’s punk-metal ethos. His first three products? Berry It Alive, Severed Lime, and Mango Chainsaw.
Cessario has long attributed the company’s growth to its ominously funny wording, as well as its packaging, claiming that aluminum is more recyclable than plastic (although, of course, no single-use container is good for it. the environment).
Nonetheless, he’s particularly proud of Liquid Death’s organic growth strategy, a strategy that has allowed the company to compete and even thrive in a world plagued by other water brands. Indeed, when asked how much Liquid Death spends on marketing compared to other drink brands, Cessario insisted there was no comparison.
“I don’t know what other water brands are spending, but we won’t have Coca-Cola or Pepsi-type budgets to spend. We don’t have $ 300 million to spend on something, so every piece of marketing we do has to be interesting or entertaining for people to deliver it organically.
Some of those marketing elements come together quickly, he said, in two weeks or less when “an idea comes out of nowhere.” Other times, a marketing campaign can be a six month process. Do a stunt last summer by Liquid Death and one of its famous few investors, Tony Hawk, who teamed up to sell 150 skateboards that had Hawk blood in ink in them. The decks sold out quickly, Cessario said, but making the decks, as well as fielding a phlebotomist who could “legally draw blood and was ready to be filmed,” took some time, he said with a laugh. .
In an even more extreme gadget, Cessario had the face of an avid Liquid Death client tattooed on his arm.
As for how the company’s strategy is changing now that it has more products to offer, Cessario told us the focus remains squarely on building a brand “that’s about making healthy drinks so fun.” or more fun than junk food and alcohol brands ”. Because his demographics are younger and masculine, and because “young children and most men have more of a sweeter palette of things,” Cessario observes, that means new drinks, which Cessario says are sweet. with agave nectar and contain only three grams of sugar and 20 calories per drink. (“We’re not dealing with people who are obsessed with every last calorie,” he noted.)
In the meantime, there are obviously plenty of places in the United States that have yet to discover the brand. Highlighting a beverage industry metric called ACV (for the volume of all products) which represents the total annual sales volume of retailers, Cessario said Fiji’s water contained 90% ACV while Liquid Death barely approached 9% at the end of 2021.
A softer deal with Amazon may well increase that percentage. Specifically, Cessario said, Liquid Death recently adopted an important metric that Amazon uses to decide when to start wholesaling a product, which means Liquid Death is no longer charged for every instance of water it uses. sells through Amazon, but sells water directly to the e-commerce giant, which then sells the water directly to its customers at a discount – and has skyrocketed its sales, Cessario said.
It is important, he continued. “For many food and beverage brands, Amazon is often their biggest sales channel.”
Other investors in the new Liquid Death cycle include Live Nation, PowerPlant Partners, Access Capital, and Nomad Ventures.
In total, Liquid Death raised $ 125 million.
He does not disclose his assessment.