💧 How To Make $700M Selling Water

💧 How To Make $700M Selling Water


Although necessary to our survival, it’s a boring business to be in.

It’s clear, tasteless, and anything but sexy.

That was until 2019 when Mark Cessario founded Liquid Death - the drink that murders your thirst.

In less than 4 years Cessario has turned Liquid Death into a $700M brand with massive investors like Machine Gun Kelly and Tony Hawk.

Today, we’ll talk about how one man disrupted the entire water industry with a brand that turned an ordinary product viral.

Here’s what we got for ya:

  • 🥤 It’s All In The Can

  • 💀 The Drink Rebellion

  • 💰 Sell Before You Build

Read Time: 5 min 1 sec

🥤 It’s All In The Can

As far as saturated markets go, water is certainly one of the top.

As of 2022, the bottled water market cap was over $302B. In the US alone there are over 87 water bottle brands…

And they’re all selling the same product.

So in 2019, Mike Cessario (founder of Liquid Death) knew that Liquid Death needed a brand that demanded attention…

And that started with the can.

“Find a stale category of products, and be the one really cool product in it” - Mike Cessario

So he designed every can with a skull and the name “Liquid Death” in large text. AKA the exact opposite of what every other water brand advertises.

Cessario’s one goal was to get buyers to see Liquid Death on shelves, say “What the H*ll is this?”, and then take one home to try.

All day, buyers are begged for their attention. It’s up to you to be different enough that they can’t help but wonder who you are.

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💀 The Drink Rebellion

After working backstage at a rock concert in the early 2010s, Cessario caught singers emptying their Monster cans and filling them with water.


Because the singers needed water while performing, but wanted to be seen drinking a cool drink brand.

So it’s not that energy drink lovers don’t like water. They just don’t feel a desire to buy from a brand that does not align with their status.

Take the Harley-Davidson brand for example. Who is their target market?

Biker gangs? Buff men with “I love mom” tattoos?


They market to wealthy men who can afford a $25K motorcycle, and who want the status of a rough biker guy for a day.

Cessario calls this “participating in a rebellion.” It’s the same with Liquid Death.

“We give them a piece of rebellion. For brands that have a cool can to walk around with like Blue Moon…If you want to participate in that brand you have to like drinking cheap beer. But when you’re water, everybody can drink water. So now, everybody who likes water has permission to be a part of this fun thing.” - Mike Cessario

What Cessario did was take a selling product and change the marketing to speak to a new audience.

So instead of using “Yoga Mom” marketing, Liquid Death runs campaigns like:

#1 - #DeathToPlastic

#2 - Free shipping for customers who want to send their used plastic to Coca-Cola

#3 - The coolest way to open a Liquid Death TikTok trend

Now for the first time ever, people are buying water for the brand and not the product.

More on this:

💰 Sell Before You Build

  • No official can (the can in the video is fake with a stenciled logo)

  • Less than $2K to spend

Cessario knew he would not convince people his water was the best.

His goal was to be funny enough that people want to buy something they could get for free at home.

In less than 1 month it had over 2M views, brought in 80K subs, and raised $100K in funding.

With this funding, Liquid Death produced their first 150K cans and sold them to major buyers like Whole Foods and 7/11.

Key Point: At every point in building his business, Cessario proved a concept before building.

Water → We’ve been drinking ever since man has existed

Metallica-like marketing → Used by energy drink and junk food companies

And before he even contacted a manufacturer, he raised over $100K in funding.

Always prove the concept first.

A few months back when I talked about how I lost $70K in 4 months, this is one of the major lessons I learned.

Don’t get ‘idea drunk’ where you become so blinded by the potential of an idea you lose all your senses.

(For context, if I had proven the concept first, I would have saved $40,000)

More on this:

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