NEW YORK: Health-conscious US consumers are increasingly turning to sparkling water as an alternative to soda, but the small Midwest LaCroix brand has stolen a march on some larger drinks groups by adopting idiosyncratic marketing.

LaCroix, which is based in the city of La Crosse in Wisconsin, produces naturally flavoured sparkling water free of sweeteners or any artificial ingredients.

Citing research from Euromonitor, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company's sales more than doubled over the past two years to $225.5m, placing it second only to Nestlé, whose Perrier and San Pellegrino brands makes the Swiss food and drinks group the market leader in the US.

The Journal attributed LaCroix's success to its "quirky marketing tactics", its distinctive neon-coloured packaging and a cheaper pricing policy.

Unlike Coca-Cola or PepsiCo, LaCroix avoids TV advertising, relying instead on participatory social media campaigns, such as its "40 Can Challenge" of 2014.

This campaign encouraged consumers to swap a can of diet or sugary soda for a can of LaCroix for 40 days and then to share their experiences online.

The company is also keen to encourage debate on social media about its range of natural and sometimes unusual flavours, such as pamplemousse (grapefruit) or peach-pear.

Once a regional brand catering for consumers in the Midwest, LaCroix was bought in 1996 by National Beverage Corp., one of the largest soda makers in North America.

Florida-based National Beverage later relaunched LaCroix with brightly coloured packaging, broadened its distribution networks and pitched the brand as a cheaper alternative to Perrier.

The strategy, coupled with LaCroix's particular approach to marketing, appears to be paying off in a sparkling water market that is estimated to have grown 26% in the US last year.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff