The inspiring story of JUST Water

Two years ago, JUST Water launched in Glenn Falls, upstate New York.

It’s a great example of what Nielsen calls an “Invisible” brand, a group that is growing and gaining share.

JUST Water is striking because even though it’s limited to the US, it scores more Instagram engagement than Pepsi globally.

They do three things well:

  • Positioning. Lots of brands are riding the sustainability trend, but, as is typical of leaders, JUST takes a strong and distinctive positioning. Key claims are “Paper-based bottle; Cap made from sugarcane; 100% pure spring water; Ethically sourced and bottled” (
  • Influencers. JUST has secured the support of influencers, not by paying, but by making them partners in the venture. These include Queen Latifah, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, and their son Jaden. 20-year-old Jaden, with his 10M Instagram followers, is the most important.
  • eCommerce. JUST ships for free to anywhere in the US. Global expansion has begun, with the UK launch this month (in Boots and Wholefoods).

Will and Jayden Smith endorsed JUST at the World Cup (and if you think Jayden doesn’t look very enthusiastic you’d be right, but it works for his audience):

From Russia with love 💧🍊

A post shared by JUST water (@just) on

At eBench we track 822 soft drinks brands. The bad news for Pepsi is that JUST isn’t the only Indie brand outperforming them. Another example is Nocco, a Swedish energy drink:

There is hope here though. There is nothing to stop brands marketing the way JUST and Nocco do. They can learn from the Indie brands, understand the trends and what good looks like, and build deep partnerships with the right influencers.