Snow-Colored Coca-Cola Cans for Christmas

White Coca-Cola Cans - courtesy of trendhunter.com

Coca-Cola normally brings out Christmas packaging by November and this year is no exception.  This year, Coca-Cola has decided to offer their regular Coca-Cola soda in an arctic-white colored aluminum can instead of the traditional red.  BevNet has some more information here.  The packaging significance is that the commonly recognized red cans have always stayed that color until now, for a good cause.  Will there be other colors that the company tries in the future – like pink for breast cancer awareness, or green for Earth Day, or maybe even a black can with black script for Earth Hour?

Coca-Cola has long supported the World Wildlife Foundation so this packaging alteration makes sense.  However, they may not have strong no ties to any of those other organizations, so changing the cans to pink, green, black or any other color does not make sense.

Will Pepsi adjust any of their packaging this Christmas?  Pepsi has traditionally gone along with all the seasonal festivities – last year they did “Ho Ho Ho” and replaced the “O” with their Pepsi circular logo.  In terms of advertising, they haven’t really aired any of their Summer Santa or Uncle Teddy Pepsi commercials.  Was the attempt to make use of the traditional Coca-Cola icons only temporary?  Will they start airing them again, in conjunction with their X Factor Pepsi and NFL Pepsi Max commercials?  After all, what better time to carve into Coca-Cola’s iconic polar bears and Santas than Christmas?

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André Courrèges Designs evian’s 2012 Designer Bottle

Evian Designer Bottles Seriesevian had started a tradition of  producing designer glass bottles for their premium water a few years ago, and this year the House of Courrèges’s André Courrèges follows in the footsteps of famous design partners Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Paul Smith, and Issey Miyake.   Jerome Goure, VP Marketing, Danone Waters of America, has the following to say about the new limited edition bottle:

“evian and Courreges both share the idea that youth is a matter of attitude rather than age,” said Jerome Goure, VP Marketing, Danone Waters of America. “The idea here was to bring Courreges’ timeless taste for fresh concepts to conceive a water bottle design that radiates a joy and a freedom from convention.”

The bottle is white and pink in color, and its ink is 100% organic, making the bottle fully recyclable.  Although I doubt anyone would be recycling this bottle if they bought it for their personal collection (like me).  Judging from the amount of comments the Issey Miyake evian designer bottle post received (see here), I would say that they have created a cult following for these collector bottles.

evian and these designers lend strong credibility to each other with these limited edition bottles.  All the designers have already made a name for themselves in the fashion industry while evian has made bottled water from the French Alps famous.  The partnership of these two may mean that these bottles attract a new following and puts the product in the hands of more influential people in the fashion industry.  Shoppers may be buying the bottles only because its made by their favorite designer and not even care about the product itself (bottled water).

Since they are so popular, should evian be making these bottles available permanently, around the year?  I would say that limiting its availability creates much stronger demand and keeps their tradition alive.  After all, no one seems to keep a product top of mind when it becomes abundantly available.  And the pricing would ultimately have to come down to increase its market penetration.  As a company that is positioned in the higher-end bottled water market, lowering prices may not make the most sense since it takes away the luxurious aspect of the product.  Keep its availability as it is – release it once a year and let the die hard fans (for either the designer, evian, or both) seek out the product to pick it up.

The release date for this year’s designer bottle is November, and will be available in select hotels, restaurants, and retailers.  I will be on the lookout to add this bottle to my collection (still missing the Christian Lacroix).

Jones Soda 16oz Cans: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Jones Soda 16oz - courtesy of bevnet.comJones Soda announced recently that they will be releasing their popular premium soda in 16oz (473ml) cans into the convenience channel.  The can packaging will follow closely with their Jones Soda glass bottles: photos submitted by consumers enclosed in a black and white box.  The 16oz cans will be available in three flavors by late October or early November: Green Apple, Berry Lemonade, and Strawberry Lime.  This product launch is unique for Jones and the overall soda category as most products are of the traditional 12oz (355ml) can variety.  Will other CSDs follow and release products en masse in this packaging size if Jones is successful?  Or will this package size fall short of sales targets that suggest it can be a permanently stocked product?

On one hand, this launch makes sense because Jones Soda is seeking out growth opportunities.  Since canned soft drinks are the preferred choice in the convenience channel and the company only produces bottles, Jones Soda would have to come up with a can version of their products in order to penetrate this channel.  However, their category position as a premium soda company somewhat dictates that they must sell their product in glass bottles.  Consumers have the notion that glass bottles preserve the taste and quality better.  If the manufacturer switches from glass bottles to aluminum cans, this is somewhat interpreted as “selling out” by sacrificing quality.  Sales have slowed down for companies that make that switch – just look at Nestea, Sobe and Lipton (among many other examples).

Adding another layer of curiosity is the can size itself.  Their choice of an unconventional size will generate attention and provide a stronger bang-for-the-buck (cost/value) relationship for the consumer.  But some other things to consider include calories and convenience store shelving capabilities.  Consumers are extremely calorie-conscious and often make the effort to read the label and portion control their servings, so when the 16oz can contains 30% more calories than a regular 12oz soft drink, they may be afraid to purchase a product of this size.  Also, most 16oz beverages are energy drinks so an uneducated shopper may confuse the product as an energy drink and not a soft drink. With retail shelf space, most convenience stores with refrigerated vaults  work with a set planogram that limits the space they have to put products – there are size limitations since a taller can will not fit into a pre-set shelf, and if the width is larger than a regular can the manufacturer must provide special racking.  The retailer may ultimately choose to sell the product warm since it cannot fit into their shelving units.

Jones Soda may believe there is a trend of consumer fragmentation, and as a result expand their offerings through package sizes.  Coca-Cola did recently released a new 12.5oz bottle as a result of product-price diversification to appeal to more consumers, so there may be some truth in that.  However, Pepsi had also recently launched their 12oz soft drinks in 16oz sizes as well (Pepsi-Cola, Diet Pepsi, and Dr Pepper were available, to the best of my knowledge) but they did not remain on shelves for long given their popularity.

If Jones Soda is ultimately successful in making this work, the other manufacturers will undoubtedly follow.  However, with the consumption patterns of consumers moving toward healthier alternatives, and limiting calories through portion-controlled serving sizes, these 16oz cans will face  a tough uphill battle.  Let’s just hope it does not follow in the footsteps of Sobe, or Nestea.

Canada Changes Energy Drink Regulations

energy drink shelf - via cbc.caHappy Thanksgiving Weekend, Canadian readers!  From my twitter feed a few days ago, I provided a link on regulation changes for energy drinks; what I didn’t do was elaborate on what those changes were and how it affects the category.  A quick summary on the changes that will be implemented in the next 1-2 years:

  • caffeine in an energy drink limited to 100 mg per 250 ml serving, with a maximum amount of 180 mg for any single serving of 591 mL or less
  • provide warnings that energy drinks should not be mixed with alcohol and are not recommended for children, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and individuals sensitive to caffeine
  • re-classified as food products (currently a natural health product) therefore must list out ingredient contents and ensure that vitamins and minerals are within safe levels

This pretty much puts energy drinks in the same atmosphere as alcohol and cigarettes, where there are warning labels and limitations on the ingredient levels.

The interesting fact is that most of the major energy drink manufacturers like Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar already have their caffeine content within the new guidelines (Red Bull – 80mg/250ml, Monster and Rockstar – 160mg/473ml).  There are a few beverages that surpass the new limit and will have to be re-formulated to meet the standards (Monster Import, Jones Whoopass, and Nos energy drinks according to the Vancouver Sun’s energy drink article – link here).  So the main changes that apply would really only affect their packaging when they have to list out the ingredients and provide a warning label to not mix with alcohol content.

Will these changes drastically affect sales?  In my opinion, not really.  Despite some health lobbyists saying that these drinks target youths which should not be taking in such high caffeine levels, there really is not expectation on the retailer’s part to supervise the sale of energy drinks – only the manufacturer and purchase are held accountable here.  And since the manufacturers will be adjusting their products to the new regulations, they have upheld their end of responsibility.  The purchaser – be it someone that is 15, 21, or 27 – can still freely purchase the beverage without being asked for identification (like alcohol and cigarettes) or seeing a pharmacist (like prescribed drugs or medication).  Without these limitations, the energy drinks will still be available on all store shelves, putting the purchase decision responsibility with the shopper.  At the end of the day, energy drinks will still be purchased and consumed at the same rate now as before the regulations.

 The new regulations are slated to be phased in over the next two years, so there may be time for much stronger regulations to be implemented as well.  Do you think the Canadian health advisory board has gone far enough with the changes, or would you like to see some more changes to be made?

Posting will resume shortly

Sorry to disappoint you, readers 😦  It’s been a few crazy weeks at work right now so I’m a little delayed on writing and analyzing beverage-industry news.  In the meantime, here are a few interesting articles to read through:

  • Diet Coke adds some marketing muscle to its beverage after being the No2 soda in the United States (link here)
  • Health Canada may consider changing and tightening energy drink regulations (link here)

Just two so far, hopefully I’ll get a chance to write and report on what you want to read about next week.