Will SodaStream Be the Star of Your Next Cocktail Party?

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Bartender is making cocktail at bar counter
ShutterstockCan a machine from SodaStream replace the mixologist?
SodaStream (SODA) has struggled to stand out as a soda-making platform, and its recent push into sparkling water has been falling flat. The Israeli company's next and possibly final shot at beverage success is apparently as a bartender.

SodaStream introduced Mix at April's Salone del Mobile expo in Milan, pinning its hopes for a return to growth on a stylish beverage maker that blends and carbonates cocktails. Mix is generating buzz in the design community, in large part because the legendary Yves Behar is responsible for the design of the portable appliance.

It's also going to turn heads for its tech-based features. It's the first cloud-tethered SodaStream machine, allowing folks to use a touchscreen interface not only to set carbonation levels but also to look up cocktail recipes. Mix will fizz up most beverages, and technology helps calibrate the maker so it adjusts the carbonation intensity based on the liquid, fruit juice or pulp.

SodaStream did not offer up a date for when Mix will hit the market. It also didn't name a price, and that will naturally go a long way to determining how well it sells and its target audience. If it's too high, it may limit itself to bars and other liquor-pouring establishments. The better play would be the mainstream market, where folks can tap into their inner mixologists at the next house party, and that could very well kick off a wave of adoption as more homes try to raise the bar at their next cocktail party.

Fizzing In Meets Fizzling Out

SodaStream can use the boost. The promise of carbonated martinis, cosmos, or even virgin fruit juices comes at a time when SodaStream's popularity is fading. Soda consumption has been declining for years, and the allure of making carbonated soft drinks at home has proven to be a fleeting novelty.

SodaStream announced late last year that it would be shifting its marketing strategy to reposition its line of beverage makers as makers of sparkling water, since trends show that consumers are buying more sparkling water at a time when carbonated beverage sales are going the other way. SodaStream is betting on the convenience, value, and freshness of fizzing up still water, but now it will also be trying to cater to anyone who's ever wanted to be the life of the party or even just serve up cocktails for two.

Shareholders have seen the stock shed nearly three-quarters of its value since it peaked two summers ago. If SodaStream can catch lightning in a carbonator bottle again -- and hopefully we'll be looking at an attractively priced Mix on the market in time for this year's holiday shopping season -- the market won't be the only one raising a glass to toast SodaStream's reinvention.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of SodaStream. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Want a sweet deal? Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.​
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