Cool-Ad Handles – Point-of-Purchase Innovation

Cool-Ad Handle in actionHave you heard of Cool-Ad Handles?  BevWire hadn’t either until recently, when I got sent some images about how cooler door handles were being widened and being replaced with advertisements in these widened panels.  After getting some more information and research, these handle panels are roughly 4.4″ wide x 14″ long with a protective cover on top to prevent wear and tear.  The ad itself are inserts that can be printed from either high quality professional printers or your regular office printer.  What will retailers think of these wider handles?  Or even more important, how will the shoppers react to a widen handle with an advertisement at the point of purchase?  Will these handle advertisements effectively replace cooler clings and the trouble it causes some retailers from switching up the communication?

These Cool-Ad Handles may not completely revolutionize the beverage point-of-purchase, but should come close if adopted by retailers and manufacturers.  The old adage is that nearly 70% of purchase decisions are made in-store, so it is paramount to influence the shopper behavior at this point on the buying process.  If adopted by retailers, this will allow them to generate more attention to in-store specials or cross-promote with other categories (ie chips, popcorn, and candy to name a few). It may even end up as an additional revenue source, should the retailer want to adjust the communication periodically and provide this as extra advertisements.  For manufacturers like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or Dr Pepper Snapple Group (and the plethora of alcoholic vendors), fitting these handles onto their proprietary gives them  dedicated communication for their products in replacement of cooler clings.  For both retailers and manufacturers, these communications can vary greatly from the typical in-store promotion: the space can be used to feature nutritional information, environmental sustainability efforts, charitable foundation support and many more.

From a shopper’s perspective, the key point will be whether still obstructs them from getting to their end goal – picking the product from the cooler.  That said, the handle itself must be sturdy as they may be trying to pull from the right (strong side) as well as from the left (weak side).  Aside from the handle’s strength, these Cool-Ad Handles should not cover the entire product from view.  Beverage shoppers that are still “searching” for what drink to purchase may not open the cooler door and then decide on what to buy, so the sale could be at risk if product is hidden by the Cool-Ad handle or any other communication.  On a positive note, the communication benefit for the retailer and manufacturer also applies to the shopper.  Shoppers would may like to be reminded of cross-promotions with other product categories when they buy a beverage.  After all, the beverage aisle and the general snack aisle may not be the same aisle.  This may help jog the shopper’s memory to quickly run down the candy aisle to pick up some fuzzy peaches.  And who doesn’t like to be reaffirmed that they have made a good purchase decision or supported a good cause?  All the better if the communication is reinforcing message that 10% of each bottle’s sale goes to a charitable foundation.

While the Cool-Ad handle may not completely replace the cooler cling, it has opened up a myriad of options to retailers and manufacturers.  The cooler cling is still the most reactive component, since it does not have to be placed right at the handle.  Rather, the cling itself can be placed higher or lower, to match the product itself behind the cooler door.  However, the cooler cling itself may get ignored more often than the Cool-Ad cooler door handle.  The shopper has to open the door to get the beverage, so seeing the Cool-Ad handle communication is inevitable.

And while this has only be implemented in the United States so far, there is word for Canadian expansion.  Be on the lookout for these handles when you head into your local 7-Eleven or Mac’s Convenience, or your Loblaws or Sobeys grocery store.

Cool-Ad Handle

Fuze Beverages: Now with Fewer Calories

Fuze lineup - courtesy of

It looks like “down-counting” has struck another product in the beverage industry.  Fuze, the juice & tea beverage brand manufactured by Coca-Cola has reduced the liquid amount inside each bottle in addition to shrinking the bottle.  The price remains unchanged yet there’s less liquid per bottle (8.5% fewer to be exact).  There are also fewer calories in the new line-up, with 180 calories for Fuze, and only 20 calories for the Fuze Shape line of juices .  What are some possible reasons behind the size and calorie reduction?  Did people find that 547ml was just too much, whereas 500ml would be just the right size?

From a business perspective, this is not an uncommon move to save on product and packaging costs.  Previous examples like the 591ml soft drinks and plain water, the 341ml non-carbonated  beverages, and the 444ml premium energy drinks suggest that there is a minimal impact on business when size is only reduced slightly.  And while there is no research to indicate that 547ml is an inefficient serving size, I suspect that this adjustment was motivated by calorie reduction in each serving.  Fuze 500ml calories - courtesy of drinkfuze.caThere were over 200 calories in each serving for the regular line of Fuze drinks when it was 547ml, while there are only 180 calories in each serving of the new Fuze drinks.    This amounts to roughly a 15% calorie reduction.  While consumers may not notice the smaller bottle, they may certainly notice the reduced calorie content – at least notice that there are less than 200 calories per serving.  And 200 calories may be an artificial “calorie threshold” in the minds of health-conscious consumers, so this a subtle way to attract health-conscious consumers more than the cost savings of a smaller bottle and less liquid.

From a consumer perspective, the calorie reduction appears to be beneficial at first glance.  The end users typically rely on manufacturers to tell them what are appropriate serving sizes, and the nutritional value associated with these sizes.  Since the new line-up features less calories, there is one less thing for the user to worry about.  On the other hand, the smaller serving sizes are still marketed at the old price point, so there may be some negative interpretation that this is just a business decision to increase corporate profitability.

In any case, both parties stands to benefit from this change.  Fuze may make more money, but it’s still dependent on how the consumers react and whether this adjustment translates to identical or greater sales.

Mid-Calorie Sodas – Successful or Not?

Pepsi Next line-up - courtesy Robin Lee

It’s been over a year that Pepsi Next has first launched in test markets, and almost six months since it’s been available nationally in the United States.  Dr Pepper 10 will also soon be lapping it’s one year national launch in the market place.  These national launches proves that Pepsi and Dr Pepper both believe in the viability of the mid-calorie cola segment.  However, what are the results of this launch, and can it be considered a success so far?

For Pepsi Next, results so far can be considered average at best.   Wall Street Journal reported the Next to have gained 1% market share on US dollars (link here), although product reviews indicate that the aftertaste (end part of the Pepsi Next’s taste curve) is unpleasant and definitely feels like the artificial sweeteners (link here).  In spite of all this, Pepsi has launched two (limited for the summer) line extensions of the mid-calorie soft drink: Paradise Mango and Cherry Vanilla (pictured above).  That said, the launch can be considered a success so far, but the real test is converting these initial trail users into returning customers.

The line extensions and the continued advertising support for Pepsi Next would be much needed in order to help the brand sustain its momentum.  After all, it takes some time for a product to be accepted in the market – remember that it took Coke Zero & Pepsi Max a few years and some trying rebranding and repackaging before it caught on with consumers?  Beyond that, let’s hope for more products to enter the mid-calorie segment, and bring more attention to the category.

DPSG 10sFor Dr Pepper 10, test results have been similar to Pepsi Next.  On the Dr Pepper 10 alone, sales nationally have been strong enough to offset the declines across Sun Drop and 7UP.  And as the one year anniversary  for Dr Pepper 10 approaches, they have already worked on releasing five additional 10 calories colas.  The 7UP 10, A&W 10, Canada Dry 10, SunKist 10, and RC 10 are currently in test markets and some of these flavors should make it national (my bet is on the 7UP, A&W, and Canada Dry).

Overall, it would appear that there are two main players in the mid-calorie segment right now between Pepsi Next and Dr Pepper 10.  Coca-Cola has been reported to be trying a mid-calorie version of Sprite and Fanta in key test markets as well.  This segment will only continue to grow as consumers become more and more health conscious.  However, in order to make it a success, the main issue of taste must be addressed, since consumers likely wouldn’t sacrifice taste for calories.

And beyond that, let’s hope it makes it way up north to Canada so we don’t have to drive across the border to find some mid calorie beverages.

Resting for Civic Holiday

Happy Civic Holiday Canadians!  I’ll be taking a week off from posting, and will return next week.  Enjoy the extra day of rest wherever you are, from Vancouver to Winnipeg to Nova Scotia!  As always, I’ll remain active on Twitter  🙂