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Coca-Cola Goes Shopping, Spends $220M On Topo Chico Sparkling Water

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Coca-Cola is trying shed some of the criticism it gets for not only selling high-calorie sugar water but paying scientists to make dubious claims about said sugar water. So it now wants to sell you unsweetened water at a premium price. Problem is, the public only has so much of an appetite for Dasani, so Coke’s got to find other ways to convince you to pay for bottled water. Enter, Topo Chico.

Coca-Cola is buying the cult favorite sparkling water brand from Mexico-based Arca Continental. As part of the deal, Coke says Arca will continue to bottle the drink, which has fans in Texas and other pockets of the U.S., at the same Monterrey, Mexico, plant the brand has been using since 1895.

And as it turns out, Coca-Cola and Topo Chico go way back: The first Coke bottled in Mexico was at a Topo Chico facility in the 1920s.

With the deal, Coca-Cola says it’s getting a trendy, “fast-growing brand” — one that the company likely hopes can compete with the likes of LaCroix.

The company makes no bones about trying to appeal to the cool kids: Matt Hughes, vice president of incubation at Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands unit, notes that Topo Chico is “a sought-after mixer thanks to its high carbonation and unique minerals,” leading to “an almost unintentional phenomenon among the craft cocktail culture, especially in Austin.”

He adds that in trying to connect with consumers, VEB adheres to guidelines that “align well with the brand,” including “authentic’ and “cool without trying too hard.”

Right now, Topo Chico is sold in Northern Mexico and in 35 states across the U.S., with approximately 70% percent of its U.S. sales coming from Texas. The goal is to extend Topo Chico’s reach beyond that, “while preserving its heritage,” Hughes says.

“We’ll continue to protect the prestige of the brand, which is authentic to its heritage and hip without being pretentious,” Hughes says. “It’s important for us to maintain the relevance with the core Topo Chico fanbase while introducing the brand to new people.”

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