Hint Ignites Unsweetened, Flavored Water Craze (

Trying to give up diet soda and get healthy but growing increasingly bored with drinking plain water, hint Inc. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Kara Goldin took her “little idea” and mantra to “drink water, not sugar” and developed it into a woman-run business with more than 150 employees and $140 million in sales, industry sources say.

Founded in 2005, the San Francisco-based hint Inc. was born with passion and purpose, growing from Goldin’s experimentation in the kitchen from adding sliced up fruits into water as a means to get healthy while also inspiring her husband and their four children then all under the age of seven, to try the healthier, better tasting waters.

The pursuit of a dream to help consumers’ lead healthier lives started when Goldin realized there was a lack of healthy beverage options in her life, and on the shelves. “I was not feeling well — I was overweight, my skin looked terrible with adult acne and I had no energy. After seeing a few doctors, it was clear that I didn’t want to take a bunch of medications so I decided to just try to think about what I was putting into my body,” Goldin recalls. “I looked at the ingredients in my diet soda and realized I had to give it up and start drinking water. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, I found water boring so I started to slice up fruit and put it in the water.

Hint offers a portfolio of 27 SKUs of premium 100 percent, all natural flavored waters with zero sweeteners, no calories and no preservatives in three core lineups: hint still, hint sparkling and hint kick. - Beverage Industry

Hint offers a portfolio of 27 SKUs of premium 100 percent, all natural flavored waters with zero sweeteners, no calories and no preservatives in three core lineups: hint still, hint sparkling and hint kick. (Image courtesy of hint Inc.)

“Not only did I love it, but my family would devour it every time I turned around. I looked in stores and there was nothing like it, they all had something added that didn’t seem necessary. Within several months, I lost close to 50 pounds, my skin cleared up and I realized I was onto something,” she continues. “I had a business that solved a problem. I thought if we could just get people to change their beverage like I did, we could help people get healthier faster.”

Today, hint is shaking up the status quo by giving consumers — even young kids — an easy, delicious way to drink water and build healthy habits from the beginning, the company says. With a portfolio of 27 SKUs of premium 100 percent, all-natural flavored waters with zero sweeteners, no calories and no preservations, the clean-label brand is fueling consumers’ thirst for water with such refreshing flavors as Blackberry, Watermelon, Cherry, Pineapple, Strawberry-Kiwi and Crisp Apple, it adds. The clean-label, non-GMO waters also are WHOLE30 approved and free from MSG, nuts, soy and gluten.

A twist on everyday waters

Available in three core lineups — hint still, which has 16 varieties; hint sparkling, a carbonated varietal that launched in 2011 and has eight flavors; and hint kick, a caffeinated variety that debuted in 2015 with three flavors — hint waters are packaged in 16-ounce BPA-free bottles. All the varietals contain just three ingredients: purified water, natural flavors and essences and are available nationwide and direct-to-consumer (DTC).

Hint recently launched a new kids’ lineup to end the “age of sugar water,” the company says. - Beverage Industry

Hint recently launched a new kids’ lineup to end the “age of sugar water,” the company says. Available in 6.75-ounce Tetra Pak cartons, the waters will soon be available at Costco and grocery stores nationwide. (Image courtesy of hint Inc.)

In late 2018, the brand’s latest innovation was born: a new hint kids’ lineup to end the “age of sugar water” by allowing children everywhere to fall in love with water instead of sugary drinks. Available in four, kid-friendly fruit flavors — Watermelon, Cherry, Blackberry and Apple — hint water for kids is available in 6.75-ounce Tetra Pak cartons and soon will be available at Costco and grocery and specialty stores nationwide, the company says.

Consumers’ quest for healthier beverages has led to bottled water becoming the No. 1 beverage based on volume for the third consecutive year, according to data from New York-based Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC). The health benefits of functional and flavored water also are propelling growth in the global waters’ market, which is predicted to surpass $76.7 billion by 2026, states Coherent Market Insights.

Excluding online sales, hint water sales are experiencing double-digit growth based on data from Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI). According to the market research firm, hint water brands saw sales increase 60.6 percent in multi-outlets and conveniences stores for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 24.

“Hint is the No. 1 independently owned non-alcoholic beverage company in the U.S., and the favorite of Silicon Valley — all the tech companies including Google, Facebook, Instagram, SalesForce and more feature hint at the offices,” Goldin states. “We had local love from the beginning and it’s exhilarating to watch it spread across the country — and someday the world.”

In addition to being nationally available at such retailers as Target, Walmart, Safeway, Whole Foods Market, Costco and Sam’s Clubs, hint is available in foodservice outlets and has a strong online presence driven by the Goldin’s seven years as vice president of shopping and eCommerce partnerships at AOL.

As a result, Goldin has parlayed hint’s strong online presence on and the company website (, which offers consumers special discounts and deals such as a limited-time TV offer for new customers to purchase 36 bottles of water for $36.

Hint Waters truck. - Beverage Industry

Hint waters are available nationwide and direct-to-consumer, which accounts for 40 percent of its sales, Kara Goldin says. (Image courtesy of hint Inc.)

“Our pioneering direct-to-consumer (DTC) business has been extraordinary and accounts for almost 40 percent of our sales,” she says.

“Hint is distinct in so many ways — from the 100 percent unsweetened recipe, which means no sugar or no diet sweeteners to the quality of ingredients to the delicious taste,” Goldin enthuses. “We have an unrivaled selection of still water flavors and we have stayed true to our commitment not to add unnecessary ingredients and to remain environmentally thoughtful down to reducing the amount of plastic in our bottles by over 40 percent in the last few years.”

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