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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Bottoms Up!

Mom Water expands with fruit-flavored hard drinks for dads, and more

The Ferdinand, Indiana, business Mom Water experienced significant organic growth in 2023 — and welcomed a new family member. Tequila-infused Dad Water joined the alcoholic beverage company’s popular foundational vodka-based Mom Water line. Now, owners Bryce and Jill Morrison are focusing on how to build their community while differentiating themselves in the crowded beverage market.

Dad Water had a soft launch in June 2023 across five states, including Indiana, and after having rectified some production issues, the company will officially launch nationwide in spring 2024.

“We filed for the Dad Water trademark shortly after Mom Water was launched, more or less to protect Mom Water,” Bryce says. “We didn’t have plans to expand in the beginning. We said if we’re going to do it, we want a unique, innovative idea.”

Photo provided by Mom Water. Dad Water — with names like Steve and Rodney — have joined Mom Water’s stable of six vodka-infused flavors.

The couple’s research uncovered that tequila is the fastest-growing spirit in the country, and not many companies are mixing tequila and fruit flavors like blood orange and pineapple jalapeño. They found practically no one was mixing tequila and fruit to produce a non-carbonated beverage. The Morrisons gave each flavor its customary moniker — Tom, Gary, Rodney, and Steve currently stock the shelves — and kept Mom Water’s trademark zero carbs, sugar, and carbonation. Public reaction to the new product has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s funny to see the moms in my friend group say, ‘I like tequila, can I switch to Dad Water?’” Jill says. “And I say, ‘You can have both – there are no sides here.’”

Even though there are now twice the flavor options, Mom Water is not slowing down. Two more 4.5 percent ABV flavors — Susan, a strawberry kiwi, and Nancy, a pineapple orange — have joined the original gang of four. The company sold 770,000 units of Mom Water in 2023 – 30,000 of which were Dad Waters during the soft launch period – and doubled its staff to 26 employees. Morrisons’ big goal for 2024 is to sell one million cases.

To sustain that growth, Bryce says the company plans to keep innovating, specifically by hiring sales representatives in several of the 30 states the products can be found in — up from 12 states when Evansville Business spoke with the Morrisons in summer 2022. The company also secured Walmart distribution in 17 states for 2024, joining an existing partnership with Target. Evansville and Newburgh, Indiana, shoppers can find Mom Water and Dad Water at Target on North First Avenue, both Walmart Supercenters, all four Evansville Schnucks grocery stores, and more than a dozen liquor retailers.

At the same time, it is looking to grow manufacturing and community outreach to different geographical regions.

To help spread the word, in 2023 the Morrisons created a “she shed” to bring to events around the country. The 2005 airstream trailer was completely renovated and branded as a “mom cave,” complete with a selfie mirror. The trailer is pulled along by a Dodge RAM pickup truck called the Dad Wagon. In another community-building effort, Mom Water partnered with Indiana University Athletics not only on advertising in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium but also for a “Mom Cam” sponsored segment during Hoosier football games, where moms around the stadium are shown on the big screen.

Other things to be on the lookout for? The Morrisons say a new variety pack is coming in March 2024 along with an expansion into six additional states.

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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