What’s Going On With Full Throttle?

Is this energy drink being discontinued or phased out?  Full Throttle in Canada has only 3 flavors, after discontinuing their sugar-free flavor.  The 3 remaining flavors are the Citrus, Berry, and Agave (also known as the Regular, Fury, and Blue Demon).  There has been little to no new product launches, and products that had been released in the United States are slowly being discontinued as well.  Our friends south of the border had Full Throttle Mother, Full Throttle Hydration, Full Throttle Coffee (in Mocha and Caramel) – all of which has been discontinued.

The energy drink has been losing customers and market share to bigger players such as Red Bull and Monster.  The most recent market share numbers indicate that Full Throttle has lost over 2% of its market share, and the brand has been on a continuous decline the last few years.  A quick look at the energy drink’s website seems to show that there has been a re-branding effort because all the logos and packaging has been changed (website link here).  Wikipedia supports this fact reporting that the energy drink changed its formula and also re-branded in November 2009 (story here).

So when will this new packaging roll out in Canada?  Will there be any marketing media support to detail this?  Are there any innovations that will be introduced as well as the re-branding effort?  They better have something big planned or else the energy drink will likely fade into obscurity while all the Red Bulls, Monsters, and 5-Hour Energy companies gobble up their remaining market shares.

V8 Fusion in a Can

Courtesy of BevNet.comCampbell Soup Company’s V8 Fusion product line will soon be available in 8oz (237ml) and 11.5oz(340ml) cans in the US.  The company’s news release said that the can will be available in Pomegranate Blueberry and Strawberry Banana varieties, and are ideal for packing in a purse or in a child’s lunchbox. Each 8-ounce can provides a full serving of vegetables (1/2 cup) and a full serving of fruit (1/2 cup), as well as essential antioxidant vitamins A, C and E and no added sugar.

Currently, seven out of ten Americans don’t get their government-recommended vegetable servings each day, but research suggests the key to bridging this “vegetable gap” may be to focus on the factors that are often behind it: convenience and enjoyment.(1,2) The makers of V8(R) juice continue to address these barriers through innovation.

“Most people know that they don’t get enough vegetables — but it can be challenging to find great-tasting options throughout the day,” said Dale Clemiss, Vice President, Beverage Marketing, V8 Beverages. “That’s why we are constantly striving to offer more and more ways to help people get their vegetables any time, anywhere through new products like V8 V-Fusion cans.”

BevWire thinks that innovation is good, especially looking for more instances to serve healthy beverages.  However,  can alternatives may not be the best option.  Who really wants to place a 8oz can into their purse?  A lunchbox maybe, but definitely think that these cans would not go into a purse.  And as more and more companies look to implement regulated servings or calorie-control packages for their products, an aluminum can just doesn’t seem like the best alternative.  Most companies are moving to offer resealable options (Monster Nitrous, Coke 414ml, etc) and having a can that isn’t resealable doesn’t seem to be moving in that direction.

Furthermore, the NCB (non-carbonated beverage) market has shrunk slightly in the last year, so some innovations are necessary to re-capture migrating sales.  Beverage consumers have traded in their soft drinks and ice teas for flavored waters and energy drinks.  Maybe offering the V8 juices in a resealable can would be an option, where the user can drink some juice now, seal it back up and finish it later.  Or make the V8 juices available  in tetra paks.  This will make it easier for moms to pack it with the kids’ meals or even have them consume it in a car ride from home to school.  Or maybe even have the juice in plastic squeeze cap bottles, these would be perfect for active kids that cannot finish their drinks in one sitting.

Maybe Campbell’s V8 Beverages division has already thought of these solutions and have yet to implement them.  Time will tell if the slim 8oz can will be a hit, but if this package succeeds with the Americans, it will likely be released here in Canada soon.

Coke Debuts 414ml Bottle Nationwide

Coca-Cola was previously testing to see if a smaller 414ml bottle would work well in the marketplace, and have decided to launch it nationwide.  Guess the bottle was successful enough for them to release it everywhere.  Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Sprite will all be available in this new size.  The beverage is a single-serve bottle, meaning it won’t be sold in multi-packs or fridgepacks (unlike the Dasani fridgepacks which has 355ml bottles).

There’s a lot of questions to be considered about this new bottle size.  Why 414ml and not 450ml or 500ml?  What is the price point for this bottle?  How much will this hurt their 591ml bottle’s sales?  Why not a multi-pack as well?

First of all, 414ml converts to 14oz, so the rationale behind this awkward milliliter size is probably because Coca-Cola will roll this out to the US as well (if not having done so already and just launching into Canada now, but googling “414ml Coke bottle” has delivered no search results).  Since the US beverages are measured in ounces, it makes sense to have a 14oz so the production line can be easily configured to produce this size; they already have the 12oz (355ml),  20oz (591ml), 24oz (710ml), 34oz (1L) bottles.  Why not a 473ml bottle you might ask?  BevWire guesses it has to do with the price point.

The price of a 414ml is $1.29, as advertised by the Chevron gas stations.  This would sort of be considered an inexpensive option since a 591ml runs close to $2 now, and a 355ml can costs $1.  If a 473ml bottle was introduced, then Coca-Cola would likely run out of room to price it competitively and risk immediately cannibalizing their 591ml bottle.  Instead, it looks like Coca-Cola is releasing this bottle to have customers trade up (cannibalize) from their 355ml can sales.  Only 30 cents more, and you get 60 more milliliters plus a resealable bottle.

Why only sell this bottle in singles and not in multi-packs?  It can’t be because the size is too large, since they already have the 710ml in multi-packs.  It can’t be because it’s too small either, because they have the 355ml fridgemates.  Is it because there will be cannibalization here as well?  That’s quite possible but if they can sell it in the single, they should be able to sell it in a multi-pack.

Thing is, it looks like Coca-Cola has released too many different sizes for their core beverages, and when they were previously saying they were looking to reduce their product portfolio, you have to wonder if they considered reducing the different package options.  There are the 355ml cans and glass bottles, the 591ml bottle, a 1L bottle for the heavily addicted, and now the in-between 414ml.

BevWire thinks there will be a lot of cannibalization occurring, from both the smaller 355ml can and the larger 591ml bottle.  What are your thoughts?

Powerade ION4 is in Canada!

BevWire has just received word that Powerade ION4 will be launching this week.  The newly formulated sports drink will come in 591ml, 710ml, 946ml and multipack package sizes.  The image above may be a little misleading because Canada only has 3 flavors of Powerade in the 946ml – Berry Blitz, Fruit Punch and Solar Flare.  Of course, that may very well change because Powerade Zero is seeing moderate success in the 946ml, and there are plenty of flavors that have yet to be extended to the 946ml size in Canada (Green Squall, Grape, Strawberry Lemon, etc).

The sports drink market has matured and niche segments are appearing (evidenced by the numerous lines of Gatorade drinks, enhanced waters, etc) so maybe this gives it a little life.  If Powerade ION4 were able to run their edgy promotions (previous posts showed advertisements as “The Complete Sports Drink”) here in Canada and give Gatorade a run for its money it may be an interesting battle.  Gatorade is suffering a little bit lately with a dip in market share, formula change, rebranding to G, and the divorce from Tiger Woods.

That being said, it all depends on the consumers, who are still strongly tide to Gatorade.  Powerade ION4 may be good, but they will have to run some aggressive promotions in order to get customers to try it.  What will Powerade do?  Will the packaging refresh help?   Will they get an athlete to endorse the beverage (maybe Steve Nash but he’s a vitaminwater fiend)?  Run some price promotions (coupons, buy one get one offers, etc)?

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens when they appear on store shelves, sitting next to the G!

Coca-Cola to Release Gold Can Commemorating the 2010 Olympics

To celebrate the Canadian team’s gold medal victory for women’s ice hockey at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Coca-Cola will be releasing a limited edition gold aluminum 355ml can.  Starting March 1st, Coca-Cola will make gold-canned 12pk fridgemates  available in select Canadian cities and mainly in large-format stores (grocery and mass merchandiser format).  Apparently, only 350 000 cases of these special cans will be produced, so it will be in extremely high demand.

This is not the only gold can that Coca-Cola has, and certainly not the first time they produced commemorative packaging to celebrate the Olympic Games.  However, there is a strong possibility that  consumers may get the commemorative cans confused with the Caffiene-Free Diet Coke cans.  The two cans look similar!  Fortunately, in addition to just having gold cans inside regular fridgemate packaging, Coca-Cola says they will have special point-of-sale signage announcing the scarcity of these cans and hopefully this helps consumers figure out the difference.

Better pick up these cans while you can!!

**Update:  These specially marked fridgemate packages will have the second image seen above to communicate to customers that they contain gold cans rather than regular red aluminum cans.