TicketManager | Sparkling Water Category Should See More Sponsorship Splash

In a post at the start of the NHL season last fall, I speculated whether the just-signed patch deal between LaCroix Sparkling Water and the Florida Panthers would jumpstart other sports partnerships in the category. At the time, I predicted it would not.

But as those same Panthers prepare to play Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, I’d like to amend my projection.

While the 44-year-old LaCroix brand has never been a big spender on sponsorship or traditional media advertising, it has added two new partnerships in the last week—becoming the official sparkling water of Inter Miami CF in MLS and San Diego Wave FC in the NWSL.

Had the Panthers patch been a one-off, other waters would not have been quick to jump on the sponsorship bandwagon. But the leading brand in the flavored sparkling water sector doubling down on sports marketing could very well spur competitors to similar action in the race for market share in the growing segment.

That race may have compelled the new LaCroix deals, as the brand saw its sales (in dollars) decline 1.5 percent over a one-year period last year as rivals saw major growth, including upstarts Waterloo Sparkling Water (up 61.3 percent), Bubbl’r (up 52.8 percent) and Spindrift (up 34.6 percent), as well as stalwart Polar Seltzer (up 19.5 percent).

Those high growth brands should make their way onto the prospective partner lists of properties with the water category open. Notably, the largest sparkling water brands from soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo fared poorly over the same period, with Pepsi’s Bubly up just 1.2 percent and Coke’s AHA down 25.5 percent.

Overall, the sparkling water category is primed for continued growth, according to an April report from research company Technavio. The global market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 12.2 percent from 2023 through 2027, reaching a total of $2.5 billion—with the largest market, North America, accounting for 35 percent of that growth.

While LaCroix’s Inter Miami deal is, like the Panthers sponsorship, in Fort Lauderdale-based parent company National Beverage Corp.’s backyard, the reported high-six-figure-per-year Wave FC agreement takes the brand to the opposite coast.

In California, LaCroix will have its logo on the back of player training kits, be a presenting sponsor at the Wave’s annual youth tournament and receive broadcast marketing assets. In Miami, the brand will have a presence with Inter Miami’s youth soccer program and plans “marketing and promotional activities with retailers across South Florida,” according to its deal announcement.