After nearly three months of consumers voting for their best Mountain Dew line extension, DEWmocracy pulled their four flavor offerings on June 9th. This allowed them to tabulate the votes, and also tease Mountain Dew enthusiasts a little longer. On June 28th, the beverage brand uploaded a picture to their facebook page indicating that Super Nova has been eliminated with the least votes. White Out was subsequently eliminated on July 2nd with the second least votes and/or consumer purchases. On Thursday July 4th 2013, Mountain Dew announced that Voltage had beat out Code Red, winning the first DEWmocracy Canada. Starting July 15th (today), Voltage will return to stores in both 355ml (12oz) and 591ml (20oz) formats. Given its success, will this lead to Voltage staying as a permanent extension? Or will Mountain Dew position Voltage as a limited time product, and stop-ship after a few months. If they opt for the latter, they will have the opportunity to re-energize the Dew portfolio next year with DEWmocracy Canada 2014. There are benefits and inhibitors toward both options, and here’s a quick perspective on each option. Why would you prefer?
Should Voltage become a permanently shelved product, consumers will undoubtedly be satisfied. After all, Voltage was determined to be the most appropriate flavor not just by social media votes, but also through product sales. Consumers essentially opened their wallets to vote for Voltage and therefore expect to be rewarded with its extended availability. From a retailer perspective, staying power for Voltage could translate to better grocery sales. Given that customers purchased Mountain Dew at their establishment – and likely as part of a larger grocery shopping trip – they will be more inclined to return for other grocery trips. And if shopping at that retailer is already part of the routine shopping trip, product availability becomes even more crucial since this means larger grocery receipts and profitability. In the end, this builds better customer satisfaction and loyalty. However, the downside becomes that if Voltage was simply a fad and consumers become uninterested with the product, sales will decline and may ultimately lead to it being discontinued.
Should Voltage only exist as a limited-time offering, consumers will derive short term satisfaction. In the longer term, this may create a cult following for Voltage should it return for DEWmocracy 2014. Similar to other limited-time offerings like Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, beverage enthusiasts will continually be on the lookout for when Voltage’s return to Canadian shelves. And in the meantime they will travel south of the border to purchase this product in unfathomable quantities. Grocery retailers will recognize the short term gains of this flavor and be more than likely to support such a marketing campaign from Pepsi in the future. During the life expectancy of Voltage this year, they will be open to increasing its shelf space and in-store visibility. However, constantly adjusting regular shelf sets to incorporate new products may be time-consuming and ultimately lead to the product being stocked randomly wherever space permits. This may in turn lead to significantly lower sales even after it returns to store shelves.
From an end user and grocery retailer perspective, both options translates positive results. What about for Pepsi?
Whether it is temporary or permanent, Voltage provides Pepsi with another beverage option to satisfy thirsty consumers. However, only Pepsi truly knows how much of these thirst quenchers’ dollars are truly incremental – meaning that they did not come at the expense of other Pepsi products the end consumer would have bought anyway. The financial and time investments behind DEWmocracy Canada has been substantial from a marketing standpoint, and there is likely a positive carry-over affect onto other Pepsi products. If Voltage is a limited-time offering, the investment and message for the summer may focus more on “get it while you can” to ensure a strong return on investment. If Voltage becomes a standard offering, the message may be “your vote, your new favorite beverage” to drive equity, product positioning, and long term sales.
Whatever the case, Voltage has won Canada’s first DEWmocracy and will be around for the summertime. For votes rooting for Code Red, Super Nova or White Out, facebook comments indicate that these flavors are still available – but who knows for how long? Now that Canadians have a taste of DEWmocracy, how often and how much will they reward Mountain Dew with their future purchases?