S’well – From empty bottle to meaningful fashion accessory – Interview with Sarah Kauss, Founder and Chairwoman

Sarah Kauss, Founder

For those who do not know about S’well (are there any such people left?) –  S’well sells re-usable and very chic water bottles, that became ‘de-rigeur’, shortly after Sarah Kauss started selling the now iconic 17oz, insulated bottles in 2010.

And how that happened is, of course, a story that interests us students of Brand Elevation*. Here is a brand that transform what should be a commodity –bottles – into an iconic fashion accessory at $40 a pop.  In fact, we can talk about S’well having kicked in gear a massive category elevation and value creation.  Reusable water bottles are estimated to have have generated over $8bn in worldwide sales in 2018 alone and still grow at a rate of 3-5% year-on-year.  It’s ‘guestimated’ that S’well has a $150 to 200 million dollar share in those sales.  But the privately owned company doesn’t share financials.  And today S’well is not only selling bottles but a broader portfolio of re-usable containers, as we will hear in the interview.

Sarah and I talk about the Why, What and How of creating the S’well brand and of  keeping it going and growing.  As we will discover, again, many of the ‘principles of Ueber-Branding’ are at work.

Click play below and  –  Enjoy!

swell bottle line-up

.

FURTHER READING:

* Brand Elevation is also the title of our latest book, a how-to guide to giving a brand meaning, making it peerless and priceless. Click here to order your copy now.

For deep insights into what drives the success of purpose-driven brands like S’well read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands,” and other posts on this blog-cast.  ”

We recommend this fascinating account of “How Fancy Water Bottles Became An 21st Century Status Symbol” by Amanda Mull in The Atlantic.

Here is a link to the S’well website and some of the ‘About’ content we talk about in the interview.

About JP Kuehlwein

JP Kuehlwein is Principal at ‘Ueber-Brands’ a New York consulting firm that helps elevate brands in the minds of people and above competition to warrant premium pricing and profits. He previously was Executive Vice President at Frédéric Fekkai & Co, a prestige salon operator and hair care brand and worked at multinational Procter & Gamble as Brand Director and Director of Strategy. JP is a recognized global business leader and brand builder with a 25+ year track record of translating consumer and brand insights into transformational propositions that win in market. His experience spans from developing a global communication strategy for the world’s leading detergent to introducing a new-to-the-world food wrap, disposable diapers as a category in India and a premium skin care brand in China to turning around a luxury lifestyle brand in the US. JP’s latest book is the bestselling “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands” which he co-authored with Wolfgang Schaefer.
Gallery | This entry was posted in 1 - Mission Incomparable - The first rule is to make your own, 4 - Behold! - The product as manifestation, PODCAST and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to S’well – From empty bottle to meaningful fashion accessory – Interview with Sarah Kauss, Founder and Chairwoman

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting interview! Compliments!
    Harald Rösch

    Like

    • JP Kuehlwein says:

      I was thinking if you when Sarah said ‘I did not see us compete with those bottles with a carabiner in them.’ That’s differentiation. Of course other brands have created substantial value in that segment, too.

      Like

Make an Ueber-Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s