what happened to vitaminwater?

vw+vw0 canada line-up courtesy of @vitaminwater_bc

Since the explosion of vitaminwater on to the beverage scene years ago, momentum appears to have subsided for the brand and enhanced waters.  It seems that a variety of market conditions has reduced excitement for vitaminwater to just another product on the shelf.  There are certainly more reasons behind the brand’s continued decline, but BevWire will detail three major contributing market conditions.  

Market Condition #1 – vitaminwater has benefited and been obstructed by being a part of Coca-Cola’s beverage family.  As highlighted briefly in an earlier post about Zevia, vitaminwater saw immense benefits from the Coca-Cola acquisition.  The enhanced water brand entered a broader distribution network that vastly improved the brand’s availability.  At the same time, their initial marketing strategy was to be driven by “consumer demand”, relying on key influencers to spread word for the product.  This type of demand ensured that consumers and retailers were willing to pay a premium, and made discounting less unnecessary.  However, as Pepsi’s Aquafina Plus (in Canada) and SoBe Lifewater (in the U.S.) kept on promoting at enormous discounts, vitaminwater was compelled to react.  Without their premium positioning, vitaminwater became just another brand in Coca-Cola’s portfolio that had to fight for promotional dollars.  And with Coca-Cola focused on growing its sparkling business of Red (Coca-Cola),  Silver (Diet Coke), and Black (Coke Zero), a host of beverage brands lost promotional funding.  After initial success in the Canadian market from 2007 to roughly 2010, the vitaminwater has slowly lost market visibility as advertising support shifted more to other Coca-Cola properties.

Evolution Fresh - courtesy of drinks-business-review.comMarket Condition #2 – shifting consumer trends and preferences, highlighted by more juice, tea and energy drink entrants.  Since 2010, we have seen more product releases coming out from the juice, energy drink and ready-to-drink tea segments.  Starbucks was a strong force that expedited this trend.  Their acquisitions of Evolution Fresh and Teavana, along with their Starbucks Refreshers product launch gave them greater market coverage and allowed them to capitalize on the consumer trends.  In energy, the big three of Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster all had product innovations enter the marketplace.  And also some negative media attention that led to consumers increasingly purchase these products to find out what whether all the extra attention was merited.  With consumers increasingly empahsizing health benefits – and vitaminwater also paying attention to this with their vitaminwater zero production introduction – the natural benefits of juice and tea became top of mind.  Because vitaminwater was relatively less healthy than these other products in the emerging segments, consumers shifted their purchase dollars from enhanced waters to juices, teas, and energy drinks.

 

via forum.smartcanucks.ca – just one of many Aquafina Plus coupons. This one is a fairly reasonable 33% discount.

Market Condition #3 – retailers react to new reality of people’s purchase habits.  Following the economic recession (that some still think we’re in), many Canadians buying behavior has focused more intensively on price.  That is not to say that they are not willing to pay more, but the value-benefit equation is more influential of their purchase decision.  Retailers have long pressured manufacturers for price concessions and finally Coca-Cola gave in to price promotions on vitaminwater in 2010 – around the time its descent began.  What happened next was more price cutting by its competitors to maintain their own sales – Aquafina Plus discounts became much deeper than before.  Ultimately this leads to the current situation, which is reduced segment value.  Since vitaminwater is no longer the premium brand that it once was, retail support started to transfer to other segments.  Shelf space for vitaminwater was compromised, and sku rationalization also start to slowly creep in.

While these three conditions do not represent the entirety of why vitaminwater is losing steam, it summarizes what is happening.  There are both internal and external contributors.  However, all hope shouldn’t be lost on the segment itself.  More competitors will look to redefine the value equation because the market leader is down.  Bottled water sales itself is on the incline.  And other vitamin beverages like Karma, Activate, and even Rockstar Energy Waters look to carve out their own niche in the marketplace.  Liquid enhancers such as Dasani Drops, Kraft MiO, Crystal Light Liquid are also seeing sales gains too.

Just wait to see how vitaminwater will react to the competitive pressure and what they might do to revive the one-time darling of the beverage industry.

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MiO Sport: Fit For Any Occasion

Courtesy of funnycommercialsworld.com
The office worker is now a basketball celebrity.  Courtesy of funnycommercialsworld.com

MiO Sport is Kraft’s latest innovation in their liquid enhancers Canadian product line (MiO Fit is what is introduced in the U.S).  While the product has been available since their February 2013 Super Bowl ad, they had not implemented any video promotions in Canada.  Until now.  Re-positioning the product as “MiO Sport”, they have released two commercials to talk about MiO Sport in the Canadian marketplace.

Here’s the MiO Sport commercial “Swish” from early May 2013:

It doesn’t take long for the viewer to guess what is being advertised in these commercials.  Notice that neither of these commercials mentioned anything about it “changing everything?”  It is because they have already educated the consumer on what MiO is and how to use it; the video itself implies that MiO Sport changes everything.  The next step is to show different situations to use MiO Sport.

With regard to the Swish commercial, the commercial follows the same structure as their previous MiO ad spot.  The original video was based in an office setting and featured the same office guy.  Every time the scene cuts from one person talking to another person, something changes.  This commercial’s ultimate message is very similar to the original MiO video: squirting MiO Sport into your water changes everything.  And then you see all the crazy situations of how this regular office worker (definitely not athletic) transforms into an outrageously successful basketball player.  It’s so over-the-top that its believable.  MiO Sport is not advertising that squirting MiO turns you into a successful athlete, rather it is making fun of it.  And that keeps with the brand’s personality.

And here’s their latest commercial “Eye of the Squirter” from July 2013:

Their second commercial “Eye of the Squirter” is different from their previous commercials.  While the main character is still the same person in the previous two ad spots, they are no longer set in the same environment that changes multiple times.  This time it is sporting activities in various environments, such as the track, the swimming pool, and the hockey locker room.   Notice that these sports also have a stronger Canadian tone to them?  While MiO itself wasn’t introduced outright from the beginning, it becomes obvious what is being advertised given the visual cues.  The advertisement’s goal is to show you that MiO Sport is a fitting hydration choice for any activities – even if it is power walking on the track.

Do either of these commercials spur you to hydrate yourself with MiO Sport?  After all, it does appear that MiO Sport is targeting a different consumer segment.  While Powerade and Gatorade are after the serious athlete, MiO Sport is only targeting the casual athlete and the average-fit consumer.  There are more people that match this consumer group than that of the serious athlete.  My guess is that the MiO Sport does have a strong appeal in the Canadian marketplace, and we should see sales taking off soon enough – if it hasn’t already.

It’s also an interesting note that these commercials are not strictly made for TV, rather it is made for YouTube and a version of it is released for TV (a topic I will highlight in a separate post).  If you don’t believe me, feel free to click into all the separate “hidden” commercials that they talk about.

Pepsi Integrates Social Media Into Vending Machines

The Cola Wars have largely been publicized on the single serve front with more recent TV commercials taking the fight to the diners and delivery trucks, and also extending out to Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.  While Coca-Cola started gaining press for their vending machines dispensing you a beverage when you sing, dance, or hug the machine, Pepsi seemed to be dormant on this front of the Cola War.  Well it turns out that Pepsi did in fact respond, but BevWire may have been hiding under a rock when those news articles gained popularity.  The video above shows you that Pepsi will give you a free Pepsi of your choice if you like them on Facebook.  Really nice touch of layering in social media to their existing vending technology.  Should this vending machine come to the United States and Canada, this will certainly extend the Cola War over to the vending machines.

While Coca-Cola has innovated on their fountain unit – the Coca-Cola Freestyle – they still have not integrated any form of social media aspects directly into the machine.  Sure, there is a smartphone memory game for the user to play and guess/create your own fountain concoction, but there is no social media integration on the machine itself.  This is where Pepsi’s vending machine is unique.  Pepsi is generating social media currency by sampling their trademark beverages to consumers.  This currency makes the Facebook user proclaim their enjoyment of Pepsi, and certainly allows Pepsi to collect consumer demographic information similarly as well.  In a time when the grocery shopper buying your product is not the same person that ends up consuming the product, the vending machine allows you to connect directly with the end user.  While there may be certain privacy laws governing this, but Pepsi will essentially be able to capture information about the user’s location data, sex, age, school, work and anything else the Facebook user puts on the social network.

Pepsi Like Machine - courtesy of socialnewsdaily.com
Pepsi Like Machine – courtesy of socialnewsdaily.com

So on the vending machine front, while Coca-Cola has you singing, dancing, and hugging their machines to open happiness, they still don’t know exactly who you are and where you live.  The Pepsi vending machine does.  This gives them a slight edge on the vending machine front of the Cola War.  Your turn to respond Coca-Cola.

Canadian Civic Holiday

No posts this week since it’s a holiday.  Check back next week!

In the meantime, I can still be found on Twitter!