La Croix Fizzling Out?

From stores to memes, La Croix has recently dominated much of pop culture as the seltzer water to buy. It claims to be use 100% natural ingredients with the added bonus of being zero calories. However, their third quarter sales revealed a 14.7% share price drop for the first time in five years, signaling a significant shift in customers’ preferences.

A possible explanation for this change in consumer behavior may be the 2018 lawsuit against La Croix that argued the ingredients in the drink are actually the same as those used in cockroach insecticide. These allegations may be especially harmful to La Croix now, as the movement towards eating and drinking all-natural products has never been stronger.

The beverage market seems particularly lucrative (in fact carbonated soft drinks are accounted for $392.6 billion in the U.S as of 2016), as the healthy, calorie-free alternatives to water are far and few inbetween. In a sense, La Croix is the ideal substitute. It has flavor and fizz, but still maintains a “healthy” image in being low calorie and all-natural. However, as a consumer, I have always been slightly distrustful of products that claim to be “too good to be true.” The current food regulation standards for defining a product as natural are extremely broad, making it hard for consumers to trust brands. For instance, Bai Brand, another company offering healthy drinking alternatives was recently sued for claiming its drinks were natural, despite containing an artificial flavoring called malic acid. In fact, many other purportedly “natural” products, such as chips by Frito-Lay, Kellog, and Pringles have been found to use synthetic ingredients.

But if La Croix were to label their drinks as artificially flavored, would they have the same success as they had before? Since the appeal of La Croix is largely based on its identity as a healthy alternative, I believe their sales would largely decrease. However, I still think that La Croix as a brand has a responsibility to inform customers of what they are putting into their bodies. In fact, I believe that the current lack of regulation around natural ingredients actually hurts companies. Even if the allegations against La Croix are untrue, as a consumer, due to the precedence of companies deeming synthetic products as natural, I am largely unlikely to purchase La Croix again.

However, there are many who consumer La Croix purely for its taste. For these consumers, the use of synthetic products may not be a pertinent issue. Regardless, La Croix and other brands should label their products more accurately to let customers decide whether or not the taste is worth the potential health risks.

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