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Do you drink Liquid Death? It's the world's best selling...

Yup, the globe's best-selling water isn't Evian, Perrier, LaCroix... it's Liquid Death!

The goth kid of canned water gets valued above $1b

Liquid Death, the “goth kid of canned water” made a splash earlier this week with a $67 million funding round that brought its valuation to $1.4 billion — double what it achieved 2 years ago, giving the punky startup coveted unicorn status.

Investors backing the deal include actor Josh Brolin and entertainment company Live Nation, which has helped supercharge growth thanks to an exclusive supply deal that they’ve had with the company since 2021. The water brand is now stocked at more than 110,000 outlets across the US and UK, and recorded $263 million in scanned retail sales last year.

Canned laughs

Liquid Death’s appeal appears to derive in part from its #DeathToPlastic environmental ethos (their website describes cans as “infinitely recyclable”), as well as its dark marketing flair, with the company listing products like "Grim Leafer" and "Berry It Alive" under its tagline, “murder your thirst”.

At a time when other water brands went minimalist, Liquid Death leaned into a tongue-in-cheek metal morbidity that has paid off on social media, particularly with the increasingly sober Gen Z. Viral pranks and celebrity collaborations such as a Steve-O voodoo doll have helped amass more than 8 million followers across its platforms, including some 5 million on TikTok alone — more than quadruple the total for Evian, the next most followed water brand.

Next time you aren’t sure your business idea is radical or innovative enough: Liquid Death is worth more than $1 billion and they just sell canned water.Liquid Death has amassed 7.9 million followers across TikTok and Instagram by doing things Fiji and Poland Spring would never dare.

By Molly Liebergall, Morning Brew

March 11, 2024

As a nonalcoholic-beverage maker funposting its way through an era of sober curiosity, Liquid Death is turning its water into wine by…not turning it into wine.

The skull-branded water company you’ve probably mistaken for an IPA brewery was valued at $1.4 billion yesterday when it got $67 million in fresh funds from investors, including Dune actor Josh Brolin, NFL player DeAndre Hopkins, and entertainment group Live Nation, which already sells Liquid Death at its venues. That’s double its $700 million valuation from 2022.

The company’s eccentrically designed tallboy cans are meant to fit right in with whatever spiked beverages your friends are passing around the party, and they’re here at the perfect time:

So many people are going booze-free that sales of near beer, mocktails, kombucha, and other nonalcoholic alternatives popped by 30% last year, according to Ad Age.

They’re expected to grow another 25% through 2026.

Against this backdrop…Liquid Death has diversified over the past few years, expanding into iced tea and flavored seltzers. Its latest foray, announced last month, is an electrolyte powder mix called Death Dust that could be a first step into a crowded energy drink market where another disruptor, Celsius, continues to make gains.

Hydration is becoming rad as hell. With the edgy wholesomeness of a biker gang that does volunteer work, Liquid Death says most of its success comes from marketing itself as a cool-looking, sustainable thirst-quencher for passionate weirdos who give swirlies to peer-pressurers. Liquid Death has amassed 7.9 million followers across TikTok and Instagram by doing things Fiji and Poland Spring would never dare, including:

Releasing an iced tea–lemonade beverage named “Armless Palmer” and then renaming it “Dead Billionaire” after Arnold Palmer’s family threatened to sue.

Selling skateboards printed with Tony Hawk’s actual blood to raise money for an anti-plastic nonprofit.

Collabing with Travis Barker on a limited-edition enema.

It’s making its mark: At least 240 people have a tattoo of Liquid Death’s flaming skull logo, according to Forbes.—ML

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