Spiritual Brands Inc., a start-up company from Florida, is hoping to make a splash in the competitive bottled water market, worth over $11 billion a year in the United States alone, with its new Spiritual Water.
Available in 10 varieties, one flavour "Balance" features a picture of Jesus on the front with The Lord's Prayer on the back in both English and Spanish while "Focus" carries a likeness of the Virgin Mary.
While the labels are different, all 10 kinds of Spiritual Water, which made its official debut this week at a trade show in Miami, are the same – purified water – with a suggested retail price for 16.9-ounce bottles of up to $1.99.
Elicko Taieb, company founder and chief executive, said the idea was to take something that people always have with them, and use it to lift their spirits or keep them focused. Church works he said, but only on Sundays.
He said the company chose Christianity first, since it is so prevalent in the United States, but has plans to expand.
"We are working on covering everyone, from Muslims to Jews to Buddhists," said Taieb. "Hopefully by next year we will begin to launch those products, by right now we are working hard on getting distribution."
"Provocative marketing is fine, but this may well raise an issue of respect or a lack thereof," said John Sicher, publisher of industry newsletter Beverage Digest.
Taieb said he was expecting some people to be offended, but said so far he hasn't met any resistance.
He claimed his focus was not on making money but on helping people "see religion and God on a daily basis, not just on the weekends or the holidays.
Taieb said Spiritual Water will first be available in small stores and he was trying to get it in grocery chains and also targeting vending machines in churches, Catholic hospitals and private schools.
"We are also hoping even down the line to try to get this water to prisons and jails. Instead of people trying to trade cigarettes, maybe they'll trade a bottle of water," he said.