COMPANY: Contigo, owned by Ignite USA,
a division of Newell Brands
PRESIDENT: Rich Wuerthele
EMPLOYEES: Approximately 120 between
offices in Chicago and China
HEADQUARTERS: 180 N. LaSalle St.,
Ste. 700, Chicago, IL 60601
ITEMS AT COSTCO AND ON
Midtown Travel Mugs
(Item #695155). Additional
products rotate by season.
COMMENTS ABOUT COSTCO:
“It’s a privilege to be a Costco
vendor, and it’s a business relationship that we’ve enjoyed since
2006. We try to bring phenomenal value to the Costco member, not just in terms of price, but
also in terms of new, innovative
features. We’ve launched several
new products with Costco and a
number of Costco exclusives.”
—Todd Starr, vice president of
marketing and product
development at Ignite USA
BY HANA MEDINA
IT WAS COMMON to take a big swig from
the reusable bottles of yesterday and experience the unpleasantness of water that was the
same temperature as (or hotter than) its surroundings, and some bottles leaked the liquid
they were supposed to contain.
But over the past 15 years, multiple reus-able-bottle innovations have transformed this
practical method of transporting liquids into a
$1.5 billion industry, according to Todd Starr,
vice president of marketing and product
development at Ignite USA, the company that
owns the Contigo brand, a Costco supplier.
The personal beverage ware category has
grown over 10 percent in the past year, and
reusable bottle options are seemingly infinite.
Contigo has been leading the evolution.
Accidental beverage ware company
Ignite USA began as an industrial design
firm in 2001, and got into designing travel
mugs at the request of one of the nation’s
largest coffee chains. The mugs were so successful that, soon after, they became the only
product Ignite designed. In 2006, Contigo
travel mugs launched into mass retail; in
2014, Newell Brands acquired Ignite and
Starr says, “Contigo is actually a Spanish
word; it means ‘with you.’ So this whole idea
of reusable beverage ware always being with
you really personifies the use of the product.”
A bottle is not just a bottle
According to Starr, the biggest industry
move has been toward vacuum-insulated
stainless steel, glass and using plastics free of
bisphenol A (BPA). Also, single-wall bodies
have moved to double-wall, providing insula-
tion and reducing condensation.
“Consumers really care about two things,”
says Starr. “One is keeping your beverage at
the right temperature, and the other is [carry-ing] it in something that won’t spill.” From
these concepts, Contigo developed body styles
and lids that have made transporting and
drinking liquids more efficient.
In-house industrial designers constantly
look to solve consumer problems when they
are developing portable beverage ware. Teams
observe consumers’ behavior to see what prob-
lems they may encounter at home or out and
about. Once the designers develop a prototype,
they address points such as: How does the
bottle feel in-hand? Will it fit in a car cup
holder while also fitting underneath a single-
serve brewer? Is the flow satisfying? Does it feel
good on the mouth? Also,
Starr says, “There is a
surprising amount to it.
Some people might think
it’s just a water bottle, but
we obsess over details.”
Two of those innova-
tive details are Contigo’s
patented Autoseal and
Autospout lids. Autoseal
lids allow the liquid to
pour from the bottle with
the push of a button, then
automatically reseal when
the button is released. With Autospout, a
push-button unlatches a spout from which
you drink; pushing the spout back down cov-
ers it from the elements, keeping the spout
cleaner. Both let users drink leak-free, using
only one hand.
And Contigo doesn’t dismiss the fact
that, for some, bottles are fashion accessories.
Starr says a product in one color may sell six
times more than the same product in another.
Contigo employees test products before
they reach a consumer test group. Extensive
factory testing (for drops, leaks, paint adhesion, etc.) is also conducted to ensure the final
prototypes meet Contigo’s standards.
Starr says the company is working on
making products that hold up better in the
dishwasher, and is even exploring the possibility of incorporating technology into designs.
Phone, wallet, keys, beverage
The popularity of reusable containers
will continue to grow, says Starr. Consumers
are becoming more health-conscious, and
they’re adopting more eco-friendly practices and becoming more economical.
In the meantime, we’ll swig pure-tasting
liquids at the perfect temperature from
Contigo beverage ware as we await the next
best bottle. C
Brilliance in a bottle
designers are constantly
focused on innovation.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch a clip about Contigo
beverage ware. (See page 14 for details.)
FOR YOUR HOME