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To Innovate, Add a Dash of Aloe…or Maybe Tomato? I LOHAS Water Brand Expands into the Unexpected

In Japan, consumers like a bit of variety. This summer, Coca-Cola’s I LOHAS water will test few flavors that move more-than-a-little beyond the expected.

The growing I LOHAS brand – which topped $1 billion in retail sales in 2014 – has branched into two new flavors: tomato and aloe. I LOHAS Tomato is available nationwide in Japan at most retail outlets, while the aloe line is only available in outlets owned by Seven & i Holdings, including Seven-Eleven, Ito-Yokado, York-Benimaru, YorkMart and Shell Garden stores.

The popularity of flavored water exploded following the launch of I LOHAS Mikan in 2010. Sustained growth has continued, with 8% year-on-year growth in 2014. In recent years, competitors have launched a succession of new flavors, too.

“I LOHAS continues to work on new flavors that exceed the expectations of consumers, with its pioneering flavored water, I LOHAS Mikan, at the core of our flavor development strategy,” said Manabu Tanaka, manager, Water Group, Coca-Cola Japan. “The addition of aloe flavor, an initiative in collaboration with a major customer, boosts the presence of I LOHAS as a range of flavors on the shop shelf.”

Japan is one of the most diverse beverage markets in the world. Consumers there love to try new drinks, and local tastes tend toward the adventurous. In any given year, Coca-Cola launches at least 60 to 70 new products to meet consumers’ fast-changing tastes.

Most likely, this is the first time a Coca-Cola water brand anywhere in the world has added tomato. I LOHAS Tomato uses extracts from tomatoes grown in Kumamoto prefecture. The flavor – with a fruity sweetness – is added to Japanese natural mineral water.

For I LOHAS Aloe, the source is Okinawa prefecture, Japan’s top producer of Aloe.

I LOHAS, which was introduced in 2009, has already dipped into the flavored water market. Mandarin orange-flavored I LOHAS Mikan debuted in 2010, and Fuji apple-favored I LOHAS Ringo appeared in 2012.

“The lineup of Mikan, Ringo, Tomato and Aloe on the shelf is a sight to behold,” Tanaka said. “We hope for further such opportunities in the future.”