As a product, water can be boring, but Liquid Death CEO Mike Cessario has been on a journey to change that.
- With an amusing name and captivating packaging, Liquid Death captures consumers’ attention and turned canned water into a profitable product.
- Clever marketing and an ability to tap into the younger generation’s sense of humor set Liquid Death apart from its competitors and rocketed it to social-media fame.
- “Cool” can designs, shocking taglines like “murder your thirst,” and Super Bowl commercials that look like beer ads for children definitely caught consumers’ attention.
- The company began as a joke, but now it is worth around $350 billion globally, CNBC reports.
- Liquid Death’s unorthodox advertisements have worked so far. In 2019, its sales were around $2.8 million, but by 2022 it reached $130 million in revenue.
Why it’s news
Successful entrepreneurship does not always mean coming up with a new product but rather addressing the market in a new way. With Cessario’s marketing background, he thought there had to be a way to make water “cool.” While he thought his new ad campaign would work, he only expected the brand to have a niche following, not the success it has today.
“I didn’t think it would be this big,” Cessario told CNBC. “I think one of the most surprising things to everybody with this was how wide the audience really was.”
Cessario imagined the brand would be popular with musicians looking to stay hydrated or sober while keeping up appearances with fans by drinking out of a can that resembled an energy drink or something alcoholic. To Cessario’s surprise, the brand caught on among younger audiences.
Liquid Death comes in a 16.9-fluid-ounce can decorated with a melting skull logo. The artwork and shape of the can is reminiscent of some craft beers and energy drinks. Kids love to feel like adults while drinking them, and parents love that their children are not drinking more sugar.
The brand has received backing from several big-name investors, including Live Nation Entertainment and Science Ventures. Celebrities like comedian Whitney Cummings and musicians from Swedish House Mafia have shown interest. The brand is now valued at around $700 million, CNBC reports.
Cessario first had the idea for the brand in 2009 while at the Vans Warped Tour in Denver. He noticed musicians drinking water from energy drink cans to stay hydrated while on stage.
“It started making me think about: Why aren’t there more healthy products that still have funny, cool, irreverent branding?” Cessario said. “Because most of the funniest, most memorable, irreverent branding marketing is all for junk food.”
A few short years later, Cessario launched the brand, but it needed more than clever packaging and irreverent marketing to stay alive. He had to develop eye-catching, inexpensive marketing strategies to reach his audience. The secret to a broad reach with minimal input was the perfect combination of funny, edgy, and cool—something that would get his audience to share his ads with their friends.
“The only way the brand would have a chance at survival is [that] the actual product itself has to be so insanely interesting, where so much of the marketing is baked into the product,” he says.
Cessario’s clever marketing strategy worked. It had hundreds of potential customers asking if the product was real or merely a joke. In just four months, a test Facebook page Cessrio created had 80,000 followers—more than competitor Aquafina at the time. And Cessario still had not sold his product, CNBC reports.
Now, Liquid Death’s Facebook page has over 250,00 followers and 1.4 million on Instagram. The brand is now available on Amazon, in Whole Foods, Kroger, and Target. In 2020, it made around $10 million in sales, by 2021, that number reached $45 million.
Liquid Death has also introduced new lines of drinks, including flavored carbonated waters. It is among Amazon’s top-selling water brands.