Liquid Death, a water brand that started its life in 2018 with a funny concept test video for the first time, is getting very serious about its growth prospects. The Los Angeles-based company that sells canned alpine mountain water that will “kill your thirst,” just secured $75 million in Series C funding led by startup studio Science, who helped launch the company and now owns it. A strong minority” lay. (Science founder Mike Jones says, “I wish we had more.”)
Earlier today, we spoke with the co-founder and CEO of Liquid Death, Mike Cesario, a West Coast creative agency turned entrepreneur, about the company’s growth. Apparently, there is a lot to boast about. According to Cesario, Liquid Death is now moved to more than 29,000 locations across the U.S. including Whole Foods, Target, Safeway, and 7-Eleven stores, and revenue reached nearly $45 million last year, up from $3 million. In 2019 when the company sold its products. can first.
He thinks there’s plenty of room to grow from here, including through the flavored waters that Liquid Death has begun to roll out with names that fit the brand’s punk metal ethos. Her first three products? Berry it alive, lime lump, and mango saw.
Cesario has long credited the company’s growth with its funny, bleak wording, along with its packaging, saying that aluminum is more recyclable than plastic (although no single-use container is good for the environment, of course).
However, he’s particularly proud of Liquid Death’s organic growth strategy, a strategy that has enabled the company to compete and even thrive in a world filled with other aquatic brands. In fact, when asked how much Liquid Death spends on marketing compared to other beverage brands, Cessario insisted there was no comparison.
“I don’t know what other water brands are spending, but we won’t have the budgets for Coca-Cola or Pepsi to spend. We don’t have $300 million to spend on something, so every bit of the marketing has to be interesting or entertaining for people to publish organically” .
Some of these marketing pieces assemble quickly in two weeks or less when “an idea comes out of nowhere,” he said. Other times, a marketing piece can take up to six months. Take a stunt last summer by Liquid Death and one of its famous investors, Tony Hawk, who teamed up to sell 150 skateboards that included ink some Hawk’s blood. Cesario said the floors sold out quickly, but making the floors as well as lining up a phlebotomist who could “legally draw blood and was willing to be in front of the camera” took a while, he said, laughing.
In an even more extreme gimmick, Cesario had the face of a liquid death thirsty agent tattooed on his arm.
As for how the company’s strategy is changing now that it has more products to push, Cesario told us the focus remains explicit on building a brand that is “related to making healthy drinks as fun or more enjoyable than fast food and alcohol brands.” Because its demographic skews younger and masculine, and because “little kids and most men have a sweeter color palette,” Cesario notes, that means new drinks, which Cesario said are sweetened with agave nectar and contain just three grams of sugar and 20 calories per drink. (“We don’t cater to people who are obsessed with every other calorie,” he noted.)
In the meantime, there are clearly a lot of places in the US that haven’t discovered the brand yet. Referring to a beverage industry metric called ACV (for the volume of all goods) that accounts for retailers’ total annual sales volume, Cesario said Fiji’s water contains 90% apple cider vinegar while the liquid death rate is approaching only 9% at the end of 2021.
A better deal with Amazon could increase this percentage. Specifically, Cesario said, Liquid Death recently passed an important metric that Amazon uses to decide when to start selling a wholesale product, which means Liquid Death is no longer charged for every instance of water it sells through Amazon, but instead sells water Direct to Cesario, the e-commerce giant, which sells water directly to its customers at a discount, has driven sales up, said Cesario.
“For a lot of food and beverage brands, Amazon is often their biggest sales channel,” he continued.
Other investors in Liquid Death’s new round include Live Nation, PowerPlant Partners, Access Capital and Nomad Ventures.
In all, Liquid Death has now raised a total of $125 million and is valued by its backers at $525 million, she says.