I truly don't understand why anyone would pay $10.99 for a case of carbonated water just to feel like a Midwest mom on a diet. Every time I talk about LaCroix, pronounced La-CROY (rhymes with enjoy), it's like I take all the money I spent on my French major and light it on fire.
LaCroix has been a Midwest staple since 1981... so this may be the first (and only) time that Wisconsinites get to act like hipsters and declare that they drank LaCroix "before it was cool."
However, the brand has gained significant traction across the US over the last couple of years thanks to a dynamic marketing campaign aimed at millennials. According to Refinery29 and Inc., millennials are no longer interested in traditional advertising campaigns that shill big bucks for celebrities and TV spots. Instead, they prefer authenticity and the self-satisfaction of catching onto a trend before it goes viral. Combine these delusions with the fact that LaCroix's colorful cans and packaging are Insta-worthy, and its meteoric rise isn't surprising at all.
While having a great brand has certainly helped LaCroix's notoriety, the real story behind their current popularity is that people are increasingly focused on getting healthier—and sugar-saturated soda isn't diet-friendly.
In 2015, people in the US drank 12.4 gallons less soda per person than they did in 2005, the equivalent of cutting out just over two 16-ounce sodas per week.
Can you guess what soda-starved millenials are turning to instead? Ugh.
As someone who isn't a huge soda drinker and prefers to stay well-hydrated, I can see the appeal of sparkling water. And as a millenial myself... yeah, I've seen first-hand how a viral marketing campaign can make some major cash.
What I don't understand is why this one particular brand has seen such explosive growth over their competitors. Let's break it down, shall we?
(Disclaimer: I grew up in Massachusetts and am a loyal Polar Beverages fan, but I'll try to not let that cloud my judgement... too much.)
LaCroix is everywhere: from Target to Whole Foods and even the bodega on my corner, there's no escaping the brightly colored stacks of boxes. Never—outside of a frat house—have I seen cardboard cases displayed so proudly. Why?
Well, LaCroix is cool right now. And not smoking-behind-the-school cool. It has the bonafide, effortless cool factor all teenage girls crave, and that 100% starts with the names. I mean, c'mon: Pamplemousse? Pomme Bayá?! Cerise Limón?!?
Just because a company manipulates your latent wanderlust by combining French and Spanish words doesn't mean there's something exotic or extraordinary happening. I repeat: LaCroix is a Wisconsin-based company. Let that sink in a bit.
Okay, I'll hand it to them—their design aesthetic totally distinguishes them from other water and soda brands. Whether that distinguishing factor is positive or negative, though, is up for debate. As for how I feel, I think The New York Times put it best:
The first time I drank LaCroix, I half expected it to be filled with self-tanner. Or Axe body spray. The cans look somehow simultaneously obnoxious and earnest, as if they're trying to appeal to Canadian ravers or the sort of people who have septum piercings and shop at Desigual.
I'm used to the minimalist, color-blocked designs of Coca-Cola and Perrier; my first impression of LaCroix was that it looked like sunscreen in a can.
Not a good start.
And the way the text casually wraps around the can is just pretentious, as if this is the beverage you should be sipping along the Côte d'Azur during Cannes, waiting for your red carpet to begin.
Yeah... no. Have I mentioned that this is from Wisconsin enough yet? I can't handle this type of trickery!
Although the names and branding might be compelling, at the end of the day, LaCroix is just plain ol' good for you. As much as I hate to admit it, there's really no disputing this point.
Speaking as someone who has tried (unsuccessfully) to manage many of the trendy diet plans such as Paleo and The Whole30, finding beverages other than water and green tea that are "allowed" into your diet plan can be excruciating. Because it doesn't contain artificial sweeteners or any added sugar, LaCroix is completely diet-friendly.
So, if you're someone who enjoys appearing like you're constantly on a diet (or you're actually on a diet and desperate for a soda alternative), LaCroix is the drink for you.
Despite my love of trendy content and my desire to Instagram every bit of foodstuff that goes into my body, I just can't get behind LaCroix. At the end of the day, you're paying for well-marketed, flavored fizzy water. That's it. Don't get me wrong, it's fine, but it's nothing to write home (or Insta) about.
Totally disagree with everything in this post? Good! Let us know how you feel in the comments. While you're at it, make sure to share this article with your friends and LaCroix-obsessed colleagues. I'm sure they'll have something to say about it.