Odwalla’s New PlantBottle

courtesy of www.bevnet.com

Odwalla, the natural health beverage company announced that starting in March 2011, it will be transitioning their single-serve bottles to PlantBottle packaging.

“Plants do such a good job of making our juice, Odwalla hired them to help make our bottles,” said Alison Lewis, President, Odwalla. “Doing good things for the community and building a business with heart are core guiding principles of Odwalla’s vision. PlantBottle packaging is just the latest step in our continued commitment to the environment.”

PlantBottle packaging consists of material derived from molasses and sugarcane juice. It has the same performance as traditional HDPE and PET bottles: no differences in shelf life, weight, composition or appearance. PlantBottle™ HDPEcan be recycled again and again in today’s recycling facilities. The redesigned plastic represents a significant step in sustainability efforts and in protecting the planet.

This seems like a great move step for a health beverage company – not only is your beverage natural, but your packaging as well.  Another interesting fact is that Odwalla is bottled and distributed by Coca-Cola in Canada.  Some might remember that Coca-Cola also introduced plant-based packaging late last year in prepration for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  That said, Coca-Cola is environmentally conscious and supports the PlantBottle as well, so having Odwalla transition to sustainable packaging represents a step in the right direction.  Not sure what the cost is on this type of packaging, but if Coca-Cola can bottle their products using this type of packaging and their competitors stick to the traditional PET bottles, this further reinforces the fact that they are the leading beverage company.  So what else should Coca-Cola try to distribute using the plant bottle?  Nestea?  Minute Maid Juices?  Powerade?  My recommendation is to distribute the Minute Maid Juices in the PlantBottle as well. It seems like the right thing to do since Minute Maid juices are also a healthy beverage offering.

Question is, will Pepsi bottle any of these beverages using this type of packaging?  The Tropicana and Naked Juices product lines, as well as the Lipton tea series seems like suitable candidates to be transitioned to sustainable packaging.  If Pepsi also bottles their products using the PlantBottle packaging it might negate one of Coca-Cola’s selling points to consumers right now.  In a time when it matters to consumers not only what is within their drinks but how it is produced, packaging innovation is a natural progression of their curiosity.  And supporting a company that cares for the environment while providing you with what you need (in this case liquid refreshments) beats one that only cares about making money.

Your move, Pepsi.

Customized Beverage Labels

courtesy of www.ball-europe.com

Andrew Kaplan from Beverage World has written a nice piece about customizable beverage label packaging for bottles and cans.  I referenced the article as a piece to read about the week I was on vacation, but you can also click here to read the article again.  Kaplan states that companies now have the option of not only producing their branding copy and logos, but also producing customized labels by digital printing to attract consumers’ attention to the product.  Ball Packaging Europe, the same company that Monster Energy contracted to product the Monster Import resealable can, is already producing customized labels for some customers to market special edition beverages.  Kaplan also reports that 20% of all new installed printing machines have digital capabilities, which makes it economical to consider digital printing as an option since a beverage company now has many options to adjust their packaging on the fly.

Despite all the technological advances in packaging, why has North America been slow in adopting these innovations? On the manufacturing side, the machine cost is likely to be expensive and only when a current machine is breaking down will anyone consider the cost of replacing it.  Then numerous people needs to be convinced that they need digital printing with the new machine, and benefits are weighed against cost and even then manufacturers may decide to stick with the traditional printing machines.

On the consumer end, it would be great to use digital printing to provide consumers with customized and fresh packaging every time they walk down the aisle to purchase your product.  However, unless consumers understand that your beverage’s branding involves constantly changing packaging, the company will risk losing a customer because they can’t find your product at the point of sale.  The beverage company would miss out on numerous opportunities to continue advertising their product and getting your attention.  That’s why so far only companies have limited with this type of packaging to special edition beverages like collector’s items.

So far, the only success with a North American beverage company that has constantly changing packaging is Jones Soda, where they change their center image based on users submitting pictures.  Even then Jones only changes the picture itself and not the complete labeling. It’s not that customized labeling for beverages hasn’t been done before, it’s just uncommon.  Going forward, if beverage companies were to succeed using digital printing, they would need to involve the consumers and invite them to submit designs to print on the bottle or can.  North American consumers may not be ready for the changing packaging designs on the bottles just yet, but they have already been exposed to it through the Doritos’ Superbowl ads and new flavor chip bag designs, as well as Nestle’s Smartie Chocolates box designs.  It is only a matter of time before Coca-Cola, Pepsi or some other beverage company tries blank labeling and involves the consumer by running a contest similar to the chips and candy companies.

evian’s 2011 Issey Miyake Limited Edition Bottle

Happy Thanksgiving Day Canadian readers!

Evian the french water bottler has successfully carved out a niche following for their water,  releasing designer collector bottles every year.  Issey Miyake has followed in the footsteps of other fashion designers in designing a pattern on a limited edition glass bottle for evian water.  Christian Lacroix was the first designer, then Jean-Paul Gaultier and Paul Smith followed in successive years, and now Issey Miyake has designed a pattern for evian to commemorate the year end as well.



From the press release, “For the end of the year celebrations, evian® and ISSEY MIYAKE have designed a pure bottle, blooming with both optimism and freshness.

Sprung from Pleats Please, the famous pleating of the designer, an imaginary shimmering flower decorates the most essential source of life, symbol of youth, the natural mineral water evian®. Thanks to this new pattern, evian® and ISSEY MIYAKE turn your end of the year tables into a field of flowers, full of poetry and humor. The bottle will exist in two versions, one of them sold exclusively at Colette an on http://www.myevian.com”

BevWire has picked up the Jean-Paul Gaultier and Paul Smith collectibles and will be picking up the Issey Miyake bottle this year, but is still missing the Christian Lacroix for his collection.

Jones Soda Reintroduces WhoopAss Energy Drink

Jones WhoopAss Energy Drink

Originally launched 11 years ago in 1999, Jones Soda is planning to reintroduce their premium energy drink WhoopAss to the energy drink market.  The relaunch will feature a new fruitier flavor, purple colored liquid, and thoroughly updated packaging.  No word on whether it arrives in Canada, but the new drink will be available in the U.S. starting in November, and will retail for a discount price point of $2.39.

Quoting Jones Soda CEO Jim Meissner, “WhoopAss is a product with major potential, but it was ahead of its time when it launched in 1999, slipped to the backburner for Jones, and unfortunately stayed there without getting the proper attention and marketing backing it deserves. Earlier in my career I played a key role in bringing a number of top selling energy drinks from initial concept to household name. This is my territory — I know the energy drink space, I know what it takes to be successful, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on WhoopAss when I came to Jones. Right now the product only accounts for a small portion of our total sales, and we aim to gain share points in this category and make WhoopAss a major part of Jones’ beverage portfolio.”

Meissner should also want to mention that WhoopAss is competing in a very crowded and maturing market space with three strong market leaders and numerous smaller energy drink competitors.  The market leaders in order of market share and profits are Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar.  After those three, the rest of the market shares drop drastically, but do include niche products like Full Throttle, Nos, and Xyience among many others.  Each nice energy drink is marketing toward a specific segment – Full Throttle the music scene, Nos the car fanatics, and Xyience targeting the MMA crowd, etc – what will WhoopAss’s target segment be?  Apparently the skater, surfer, and MMA fanatic segments.  With Xyience already solidly entrenched in the MMA crowd through their UFC sponsorship and product placements, WhoopAss is facing a strong uphill battle to penetrate that segment.  The skater and surfer segments may be an easier path to reach profitability and success.

The single serve energy drink market is roughly $25million and growing, but with the category maturing, WhoopAss’s introduction is just fighting for a small share of the market.  Is that worth the product introduction, given how much resources the company will be spending, not to mention that they are retailing it as a slightly lower price point ($2.39 compared to average market price of $2.69 in the US)?  Meissner says that the product has “slipped to the backburner for Jones, and unfortunately stayed there without getting the proper attention and marketing backing it deserves.” Maybe if WhoopAss was launched 5 years earlier it would have made a bigger impact, but with Jones’ focused on other projects in recent years (BevWire has written about Jones GABA and Jones Soda being listed in Wal-Marts) the market is full of competition and everyone is just competing for a small piece of the market.  Unless the drink gains strong celebrity endorsements (ie. Tony Hawk, Shaun White, etc) and lots of news coverage (can be both positive and negative), it will become an also-ran.

Of course, the energy drink has not even been released yet and BevWire is predicting for it to be unsuccessful, so I might be a little harsh.  Maybe we will focus on WhoopAss again later and revisit this piece again next year to see how much success WhoopAss has experienced in the energy drink category.