Water Buddies makes a splash with responsive bottles

Without natural brand visibility, Water Buddies had to get innovative to create a cool factor among kids.

Without natural brand visibility, Water Buddies had to get innovative to create a cool factor among kids.

water buddies heat activated thermochromic ink sensor bottles​With so many beverages on the shelves, getting kids to make healthier choices requires some inventiveness.

“We need to get creative to compete with the soft drink market,” Water Buddies founder Sian Leonard says.

Without the brand visibility of, say, Bob the Builder or Dora the Explorer, Water Buddies has had to create its own “cool factor”. Leonard’s own children have served as inspiration for the cartoon characters that grace the labels. And more importantly, Water Buddies has been amping up the packing bells and whistles.

Its latest party trick harks back to the neon glory of the 80s. Harnessing the magic of thermochromic ink, its new range features responsive labels that change colour when you pick up a bottle in your hand.

Thermochromic ink can be engineered to respond at different temperatures. It’s commonly used in the pursuit of commercial safety – think monitoring food temperatures. But for leisure? Not so much; Leonard believes this is a new use for the technology.

As she points out, kids eat and drink with their eyes, not just their gobs. Gimmicky as these tricks seem, they actually work.

In the future, expect to see drinks packaged with fragrant stickers that retain their aroma for months at a time, and even a sparkling water that tastes like cola – Leonard is working on creating a carbonated soft drink minus the sugar.

The soft drink market has been declining of late, and Leonard says the bottled water sector has been picking up the slack – just consider how many new flavoured and enhanced waters now line the supermarket shelves.

Water Buddies’ growth has been “phenomenal” and with just one year to its name is bottling 250,000 units a month and growing. Its range is stocked in all major supermarkets up and down the country, and in more than 1,000 supermarkets across the ditch.