San Francisco-based bottled water company Hint has opened up a brick and mortar “experiential water bar” in Cow Hollow, and dammit, this company wants you to know that it’s much more than just a purveyor of fruit-flavored takes of an essential natural resource.
In fact, Hint is not a water company at all, now that it has a storefront: in the words of founder and CEO Kara Goldin, it’s “a disruptive omni-channel lifestyle brand”.
Customers visiting the Union Street store, located next to Hint’s headquarters, might not find the offerings that revolutionary: You can taste Hint’s various flavors, such as watermelon, lime, or cucumber, and get educated about how water is healthier than soda. Such activities are not so much “disruptive” and more just a novelty, although it’s certainly, “disruptive” to take a freely-available necessity of life and sell it to people at a markup of several thousand percent (even more if you sign up to Hint’s delivery subscription service).
Anyhow, the flagship store is not so much about selling water as announcing Hint’s presence as a valid presence on the business landscape among massive players like Pepsi and Coca-Cola: the new store aims to “amplify our message to consumers and fuel our growth,” in Goldin’s words.
That message is most likely Hint’s slogan, “drink water, not sugar,” but it could very well be updated to “drink moneyed white mom lifestyle accoutrements” given what’s on offer: beyond the company’s staple dihydrogen monoxide offerings, the Hint store will sell liquids and solids like branded sunscreen, lip balm, phone chargers, Bluetooth speakers, clothing, and Popsockets for phones. In short, it’s a ploy for brand recognition as transparent as Hint’s primary product.
Hint isn’t the first water company to get its branding emblazoned on human bodies, and the strategy has had mixed success — Lacroix bathing suits made a splash earlier this year, but few people seemed to buy these shirts that made the wearer look like a bottle of Vitamin Water.
Beyond operating as a shop, Hint states that it’s offering an “experience,” perhaps along the same lines as seeing Machu Picchu at sunrise, or discovering inner peace at a Buddhist temple. Oh wait, it’s just a photo booth with a swing for Instagrammers, alongside some power outlets.
The store opened at 2124 Union Street (corner Webster) last week with an “exclusive, invite-only” event featuring people like Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Christine Pelosi and a bunch of other people we don’t know; all the normals are now welcome to visit the disruptive omni-channel lifestyle brand-slash-water bottler from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.