Odwalla recently launched Odwalla Smoothies for Kids, a fruit juice smoothie that comes in a kid-friendly juice boxes (link here). This is a departure from the Odwalla beverages that are currently available. Not only are they gearing part of their product portfolio towards youth, they are also developing new packaging that kids are accustomed to using. Is targeting kids a good strategy for the beverage manufacturer, or will there be cannibalization from their base business: the environmental-friendly plant bottle smoothies? Will Naked, Arthur’s Fresh, Bolthouse, and other smoothie producers follow Odwalla, and segment their business to market towards youth?
From a marketing standpoint, BevWire believes this to be a good strategy. Distribution is one area where Odwalla can leverage upon to succeed for the new launch. Aside from on-premise locations like coffee shops and food courts, Odwalla’s bottled smoothies currently has distribution in natural food stores, high end supermarkets and specialty outlets. These products’ availability in grocery shopping outlets help the juice boxes succeed since the typical household grocery shopper is the mom. If moms already consume Odwalla products, she may introduce the healthy beverage to her children. However, the bottled smoothies pose a challenge since the serving size are meant for adults and the resealable container’s caps are meant to be opened by stronger hands. Kids can consume the smoothies but only in the presence of adults. The Odwalla Smoothies for Kids goes after an entirely different consumption occasion – one that does not require the presence of mom to help open and close the bottle.
It is also because Odwalla is going after a different consumption occasion that will limit cannibalization. Adults rarely drink from juice boxes so the cannibalizing effect will be minimized. In fact, this may expand the business really well since the purchaser will be buying the bottled smoothie for herself, and buy the juice box version for her children.
How will the competition react? It appears as if Odwalla is actually reacting to another competitor’s actions. Naked Juice may have already thought about targeting the younger demographic, just differently. While the typical on-premise serving size of these smoothie are 450ml (15.2oz) bottles, Naked Juice does have a smaller serving size container: the 295ml (10oz) bottle. These bottles can be found in Starbucks coffee shops among other locations, but the rationale would be that moms get their coffee beverage while their children get the Naked Juice small bottles (most recently O.N.E. Coconut water has also appeared in Starbuck’s refrigerated coolers, but that’s a story for another topic). Bolthouse Farms, another competitive smoothie manufacturer, also makes smoothies in the 450ml bottle variety. They do have a smaller serving size, but only for the acai juices. This would indicate that Bolthouse Farms currently does not have an offering available toward kids and the in-school drinking occasion.
Local Canadian manufacturer Arthur’s Fresh also produces smoothies and competes against Odwalla and Naked Juices. With single bottles that have serving sizes of 325ml and 900ml, they are not marketing toward in-school drinking occasion nor are they going after the kids. Happy Planet also only has their smoothies available in the 450ml (or larger) sizes, meaning that they have also not produced a product that kids can drink without their parents assistance. However, their next move may be to push out new packaging designs or smaller sizes, since the category’s leading manufactures have products in smaller serving sizes and packaging that attract kids.
While Odwalla’s new products may not change the super premium juice and smoothie landscape completely or at all, they do have the other manufacturers thinking about cateringtoward a different drinking occasion or a different demographic. It might not be a juice box that caters to kids. But it could very well be caffeine-infused smoothie to target a completely different demographic. Or it could be a new and even more friendly product package.
Whatever it is, Odwalla’s Smoothies for Kids offers a refreshing perspective on how creativity and market segmentation have helped expand a product category and maintain (or further accelerate) its growth rate.