By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur Ricky Wright knows something about taste and flavor.
In the 1980s, he co-founded the Scottsdale restaurant Carlsbad Tavern, which delivers New Mexican fare in a bat-and-cave-themed interior.
“It’s all about the flavor, the taste profile,” he says. “If I give you a small plate and lousy service and overcharge you and a great-tasting product—it’s one of the best meals—you’re coming back. I can give you the best service and the biggest portion, but if you don’t like the food, you’re never coming back.”
He used the same equation when his Airpark-based Alkaline Water Company introduced CBD products.
The Alkaline Water Company produces bottled alkaline water, flavor-infused waters and CBD-infused products sold under the brand names Alkaline 88, A88 Infused and A88CBD, respectively. Its flagship product, Alkaline88, delivers “perfect 8.8 pH-balanced alkaline drinking water with trace minerals and electrolytes.” The company uses a proprietary electrolysis manufacturing process that produces a high-quality, chemical-free alkaline water using only pink Himalayan rock salt.
Alkaline88 comes in watermelon, raspberry, lemon, blood orange, lemon lime, peach mango and cucumber mint.
“The lemon lime is just unbelievable. It’s just great,” Wright says. “The peach mango is great. Cucumber mint is our seventh flavor. We’re going to stop there for a while.
“They’re beautifully marketed and labeled. The one thing buyers have come to trust is for us to deliver when we say we will. Stores don’t want empty shelves. We’ve always delivered a quality product. If you’re a buyer and you’re getting a quality product and it’s moving, you’re going to talk about our next product. You already trust us. It’s not a cold call.”
The CBD products were officially launched two months ago, and the ingestibles were introduced in May. Unlike its more widely known hemp-derived counterpart, THC, the CBD compound does not produce the same psychoactive effects. A88CBD’s new portfolio of CBD products offers a host of wellness properties with all of the hydration—and none of the high.
Now, with the growing variety of health benefits CBD has been proven to provide, A88CBD is setting out to optimize people’s salubrity regimens all over again.
“Eighteen months ago, when the hemp bill was passed, we were already developing hemp products,” Wright says. “We’re going to launch topicals this year. We’re pretty excited about the CBD-infused water. There’s virtually none in the marketplace.”
Wright admits the problem with CBD products is the strong taste. To work around that, the Alkaline Water Company teamed with a 125-year-old flavor house on the East Coast.
“They created a masking agent for us to use in our ingestibles,” Wright says. “The flavors are outstanding. You don’t get the nasty hemp aftertaste.
“I don’t understand. A lot of my competitors are more interested in bringing something to the market than getting the taste profile right. For me and my team, it was important to bring a product that’s right to the market rather than be first to the market.”
Wright sees a “bright future” for CBD and its access to storefronts, as it’s partnered with the national marketing firm Youtech.
“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Alkaline88 on this new initiative,” says Wilbur You, CEO of Youtech. “A88CBD is positioned to change the wellness landscape in a big way, and we’re thrilled to be leading the charge with the brand’s launch.”
The Illinois-based agency’s client roster boasts work with MillerCoors, 3M, BVV, Chicago Tribune, Kernel Seasons and Steak 44.
“I see a huge upside with respect to our water,” Wright says. “It’s only in about 75% of all of our major grocery store chains. We were hoping to launch into the hospitality industry this spring, but everything was put on hold for COVID-19. There’s a big opportunity in hospitality, in respect to our aluminum bottle. It’s a Coors-type bottle that could be sold in universities, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, golf courses and airports. They just don’t want to see plastic anymore.”
Wright and Steve Nickolas co-founded Alkaline Water Company six years ago, and it has since become the leading alkaline water brand available in bulk and single-serve sizes with eco-friendly aluminum packaging options.
The A88CBD infused brand’s products are made with lab-tested full-spectrum hemp and include salves, balms, lotions, essential oils, bath salts, CBD-infused drinks, beverage shots, tinctures, capsules, gummies and powder packs.
“I’m a serial entrepreneur,” Wright says. “I’ve had a lot of my own businesses during my lifetime. It takes a special type of mindset to be betting on yourself. We were running this thing last year with about $2 million revenue per employee.
“We’ve got a really, really, really strong team. We all work really hard. I don’t need a committee or a consultant.”
Wright doesn’t make any health claims, but he encourages the public to drink his product—especially during the pandemic.
“We have a huge opportunity to prove that in the COVID arena you’re supposed to drink alkaline water,” Wright says. “The claims are out there on the internet.
“We were able to more than double our sales from last year, and a lot of the time we were the only product on the shelves during the COVID crisis. Our guys were the only ones delivering. That’s a testimony to my supply chain people, the logistical people. We found out that 30% more people tried our brand during this crisis than prior to the crisis. That’s a pretty good statistic.”
Info: a88cbd.com or thealkalinewaterco.com ν