Friday, November 16, 2007

The Friday Fishwrap

Week-ending news and musings

Zen and the art of hydration: With Aquamantra bottled water you 'are' what you drink

We're all familiar with enhanced bottled water's like Vitamin Water and those with added nutritional supplements, caffeine and other goodies. But Aquamantra "mantra-infused" spring water has taken this phenomenon to the next level. The premium bottled water company, located in the upscale Orange County California city of Dana Point, enhances its three varieties of spring water with a more intangible quantity--loads of positive thoughts and energy.

That's right, the mantra waters are infused with good vibes. Three to be exact. The company's three varieties of spring water, which comes from a natural spring near San Diego, are named "I Am Healthy," I Am Loved and "I Am Lucky." Each variety (or mantra, hence the name) is filled with positive energy and thoughts which the company says results in the water's drinkers achieving those respective states of mind. The waters come in 1 liter plastic bottles, and 16.9 oz "mini-mantra's" have just been introduced.

"The thoughts in the words (I am healthy, loved, lucky) permeate the liquid, influencing the taste and beneficial properties of the water," says the company. "If you are drinking 'I Am Healthy,' for example, you will resonate with the energy to be healthy. 'I Am Loved' will encourage you to feel loved and 'I Am Lucky' will encourage you to feel gratitude for your life and how you want to be lucky," says Alexandra Teklac, Aquamantra's founder.

This isn't a mere marketing gimmick to the company though. Rather, Ms. Teklac and her team take what they've discovered very seriously, including studying the science behind their corporate product philosophy.

Ms. Teklac says Aquamantra was inspired by the 2004 film What The Bleep Do We Know. The movie discusses the underlying quantum mechanics of the world. The film reviews scientific research which suggests how reality is changed by thoughts. In the film, Dr. Masaru Emoto, who wrote a book called Hidden Messages in Water, says his research, based on the principles of quantum mechanics, demonstrates that the molecular structure of water was changed by a Zen Buddhist Monk's thought.

The company just introduced what it calls its mini-mantras, 16.9oz versions of the three Zen-infused waters, for those who prefer a smaller shot of health, love or luck.

Based on this premise, Aquamantra "spiritually infuses" its three varieties of water with deep thoughts and messages of health, love and luck, and designs the labels on the respective bottles of spring water with Zen images which depict these emotions and attributes. The result, the company says, is a natural spring water that is more refreshing, better tasting and more wholesome to drink. And, depending on which of the three varieties you're drinking, helps make you feel more like what you are drinking--either healthier, more loved, or luckier.

(You can read more about the company's philosophy behind their waters here. You also can read more about Dr. Masuru Emoto and his influence on the bottled water company here. Read more about what a "mantra" is and how the company incorporates the ancient scripts into their philosophy and bottled water here.)

You don't have to believe what the company says exclusively either. You can read some comments from Aquamantra drinkers and believers here. We aren't saying the water works or that it doesn't. That's beyond our epistemological knowledge and above our pay grade. However, the mind is a very suggestive entity as physicists and psychologists are demonstrating more and more. Therefore, perhaps the company is onto something. After all, much of branding is pychological anyway, isn't it?

The Zen Masters of hydration aren't just banking on their product's good health, stronger love and better luck mantras to sell water and create loyal customers however. The company has been winning bottled water competitions all over the U.S. for the product's taste and premium quality.

For example, the well-known Berkeley Springs International Bottled Water competition recently named Aquamantra its best tasting bottled water for 2007. The International Bottled Water Association also has given the water a "best" an award for its premium taste quality.

Aquamantra also is receiving positive acclaim for its "mental and emotional energy in a bottle" attributes. Readers of In Shape magazine named the spring water "the most inspirational" water in a June, 2007 poll featuring numerous bottled water varieties. The "I Am Lucky' water was selected by Hollywood's Academy of Awards organizing committee for this year's Oscar Awards ceremony. Bottles of the water were given to nominees as a way to "enhance" their chances of winning in their respective film categories.

The mantra waters are gaining widespread national distribution in the U.S. All the Whole Foods Market stores in Southern California sell the waters, as do a number of the supernatural grocer's stores in Northern California, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest. Nearly every upscale supermarket and natural foods store in Southern California is merchandising Aquamantra waters. Additionally, numerous liquor stores, cafes and restaurants in the region offer and sell the spring waters.

The company just obtained a major distribution achievement. The Albertsons supermarket chain will soon began selling all three varieties of the Zen-inspired waters in 85 stores in its Southwestern U.S. region. The water guru's also have forged a distribution deal with mega-distributor United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) and its new Millbrook specialty foods subsidiary, which UNFI officially acquired just last week. Both distributors will market the waters to natural foods stores, supermarkets and other retail and foodservice venues nationally.

Aquamantra, who's mission statement is "stimulate your soul," was started just a little over a year ago and is growing rapidly. It's national expansion will perhaps bring health, love and good luck to the millions of Americans who now will have the opportunity to sip the Zen-infused waters like many Western U.S. residents currently are doing. And by the look of the company's rapid success, we have a feeling someone just might have offered them a corporate good luck mantra of their own about a year ago.

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