Jones Soda Available in Walmart

courtesy of www.jonessoda.comJones Soda dramatically increased their distribution reach by gaining listing with Walmart. After a trial test that proved to be successful at 750 US locations, Walmart has agreed to give 3 shelf facings to carry 3 Jones Pure Cane Soda flavors (Green Apple, Berry Lemonade, and Cream Soda) across all their US retail locations.

“The primary complaint through our customer service feedback is that people can’t find Jones Soda near them,” said Jones CEO William Meissner. “The Walmart deal allows for another one of America’s premier retailers to offer Jones. Walmart greatly expands our distribution footprint and truly makes our product accessible to everyone, which is something the Jones Soda brand has always stood for. Now, almost anyone, anywhere in the U.S. can seek out a nearby store or stumble upon our product and purchase it on the spot. We are incredibly energized by the growth potential this Walmart expansion brings.”  With Walmart`s 3800 locations, reports indicate that this will increase Jones`retail distribution another 10 percent.

Although this distribution agreement will help Jones Soda gain visibility with more customers, it may also work against them in some aspects.  First, Jones Soda will now be just another product lost among the many beverages in the beverage aisle.  Walmart realizes that their retailer network is large, and as such imposes tough hurdles to ensure profitability, hence Jones has to pass a trial test across 750 stores.  Even then Jones Soda is given only 3 shelf facings to display their products to consumers.  The other aspect that also works against them is lower profitability.  By getting into Walmart stores, Jones Soda will also have to likely sell their beverages at a lower price point.

In any case, since Jones Soda is a somewhat struggling company trying to turn over a profit, getting into Walmart is a step in the right direction.  The important thing is to gain distribution and new customers and this is what Jones Soda is doing.  No word on whether this Walmart agreement extends into Canada, but Jones Soda can already be found at a variety of places, just not at Walmart Canada- yet.

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Glaceau Vitaminwater Launches 355ml Multipack

355ml 4pack XXX, Multi-V and Essential

Look out, there’s more vitaminwater coming our way.  Following up on their success with the 591ml single bottle, vitaminwater will now release a 4-bottle 355ml multipack.  This 355ml multipack will be released in three flavors: XXX, Multi-V and Essential.

vitaminwater is likely targeting a different customer set with this 4-bottle package, as they are only stocking it in drug and grocery stores, and big box supermarkets.  Bevwire also found out that the price point is upwards of $5 for the 4pack (basically $1.25/bottle), which is pretty decent considering the $2+ price point for the 591ml.  It wouldn’t make any sense to put it in the convenience channel anyway, since that is where most of their money is made with the single bottle and they would risk heavy cannibalization.

Even though Bevwire has always been critical of how many flavors vitaminwater has, I am curious as to why they only selected these three flavors of XXX, Multi-V and Essential.  While they are popular, there are other market-friendly flavors as well and they were not chosen.  What about Energy?  Or Focus?  Or Restore?  These other three tend to be quite popular flavors as well.  It could be the fact that they do not want to saturate the market (as it looks like they may have with the 591ml bottle).  One only needs to look across the border to see what I mean by saturation.  In addition to the 591ml bottle, there is also a 1L bottle, a 355ml 12pack multipack and variety pack, and a 473ml 4pack.  There reaches a certain point where too many product choices for a customer leads to no purchase at all.  Fortunately, Canada has not reached that point yet.

In any case, be on the lookout for these multipacks and their clever on-package marketing.

Will Sobe Lifewater Come to Canada?

courtesy of thedieline.comIn the past, BevWire has blogged about glaceau’s vitaminwater leading the Canadian enhanced water beverage category, but what about Sobe Lifewater?  The current enhanced water category really only has two players right now, Coca-Cola’s glaceau vitaminwater, and Pepsi’s Aquafina Plus.  Vitaminwater has pretty much dominated the market landscape with more than 50% market share, stealing Aquafina Plus’ market share hand over hand.  What if Pepsi were to launch Sobe Lifewater into Canada?  Would that combat the market share decline for Pepsi in this category?  In the United States, while vitaminwater is the leader, Sobe Lifewater is a strong second.

In Canada, Aquafina Plus has done everything it can to try and appear like a strong second compared to vitaminwater.  They have made a bottle adjustment to provide easier grip (and also copy the Sobe Lifewater bottle shape).  They have changed the packaging copy to show more focus on the vitamins.  They have changed and enhanced the formula to include natural sweeteners and lower the calorie content (Aquafina Plus10).  Aquafina Plus has also gone to price reductions such as Buy One Get One offers to give consumers incentives to buy their product over glaceau vitaminwater.  However, these actions have only really led to a temporary increase in sales and market share.  Most of all, when the product is on a price reduction consumers that are price sensitive will choose Aquafina Plus and when the price rises again they will choose something else.

The Sobe brand itself has morphed a lot from when it was first introduced on the market as a ready-to-drink tea beverage.  It has also become an energy drink and an enhanced water.  The Canadian marketplace’s strongest brand association is tea, but even then Sobe had to re-brand itself.  Sobe has to revive the tea offerings through re-packaging from glass bottles to plastic bottles.  This indicates that even though Sobe’s strongest association in Canada is with tea, they are not the leader in this category (having to revive the brand and change the packaging).  Therefore, this may be the perfect time to introduce the Lifewater series and provide a stronger competitor against vitaminwater than Aquafina Plus.  And seeing Sobe Lifewater’s strength in the United States, Pepsi should strongly consider introducing this enhanced water beverage into Canada as well.

Red Bull Upsizes to 473ml

There’s been a lot of activity lately in the energy channel with Monster and Rockstar releasing new products, so it’s only appropriate that the market leader Red Bull releases something as well.  However, unlike their previous release (energy shots) their latest innovation brings the competition back into the cooler door with other energy drinks. Also intriguing is the fact that the 473ml is only available in the regular size and not the sugar free flavor.  That said, the newest innovation can barely be called an innovation at all – bigger can for one flavor.

Bevwire isn’t to convinced that this new bigger can is the best idea that Red Bull could come up with.  Most users are trending to smaller sizes with portion controls yet Red Bull moves in the opposite direction.  The larger can likely provide lower margins since the retail prices are not hugely different yet there’s more product in the can – energy shots have more margin than cans due to lower material and product cost.  Also, what about the cannibalization factor?  By having consumers trade up to the larger size, the more profitable smaller cans sell less.  Not to mention, their multi-pack sales may decline since consumers can get twice as much product in 2 473ml cans instead of a multi-pack.  The can itself does not come with a resealable option like the Monster Import, so the benefits are fairly limited.

It’s interesting to see who Red Bull is actually targeting with this new larger can – heavy consumers that typically drink more than one can, or casual users that change from energy drink to energy drink depending on price or quantity per can.  If the rational is the latter, then Red Bull may have gotten it all wrong.  When you hold a leadership position like Red Bull and you can sell your product at a smaller size than your competition and still charge a premium, why increase your size to that of your competitor and charge a premium still?  The competitive landscape changes in favor of the competitors because the leader has conformed to the rest of the market.

All in all, this product launch can’t really be considered a  true innovation as it’s just upsizing their 355ml can to a 473ml can.  Depending on how consumers respond, this product can have a polarizing effect on sales for this size and other sizes as well.

Drank comes to Canada

Drank, the relaxation beverage from the United States is making its way north of the border this summer.  Made by Innovation Beverages Group, this “slow your roll” beverage’s main all-natural ingredients are rosehips (vitamin C and anti-oxidants), valerian root (anxiety relaxant) and melatonin (regulates and enhances sleep cycle), as well as high fructose corn syrup and sucrose.  7-Eleven convenience stores will be the main location to carry this beverage, but more grocery, convenience, and drug stores will be following within the next few months to stock this product.  The success that this relaxation beverage experienced in the United States is extending its reach to Canada.

However, an article in the Vancouver Sun (article link here) documents this beverage and the supposed negative effects this drink may have.  The article mentions that Drank carries with it negative connotations because of its resemblance to illicit beverages from its name, coloring, and beverage properties.  The word “drank” refers to a beverage in the United States that puts the drinker to sleep, with cough syrup, codeine and promethazine as its main properties.  Consumers groups fear that after trying this beverage the consumers will in turn seek the real thing.

This concern does have merit, but BevWire would like to think that Canadian consumers are better educated and are less likely to seek out a drug after trying a beverage.  In any case, we’ll have to wait and see.

Innovation Beverage Group and PX Enterprises Ltd (the company responsible for Drank’s Canadian launch) position the beverage to follow that of the United States: rap and hip-hop culture.  Ludacris, an American hip-hop artist, is one of Drank’s main supporters, so the hip-hop positioning does makes sense.  However, Canada’s hip-hop culture is not as strong compared the United States, so this positioning may not work as effectively here. Canada has stronger rock/alternative music bands and supporters rather than hip-hop, so Drank may need to seek out some rock bands.

To seek out Canada’s hip-hop culture, maybe Drank should partner up with Canada’s So You Think You Can Dance TV show (cost or budget permitting, of course).  Hip-hop culture will be most apparent there and it will be a great marketing platform to showcase the beverage, similar to how Coca-Cola products have garnered exposure (read vitaminwater zero) through American Idol with their partnership.  Drank can place their beverages on the judging panel’s table, or request that the drapes/curtains be made the soft purple color of their beverage and use these marketing methods to get into the minds of live and TV viewers.  Just a random thought, but there are legs to this idea and it may make sense to align the beverage up with some form of Canada hip-hop culture.