vitaminwater zero Quietly Arrives in Canada

vw+vw0 canada line-up courtesy of @vitaminwater_bc

Has anyone noticed the subtle changes to the low-calorie vitaminwater lineup in Canada?  There used to be three vitaminwater10 variants available: go-go, resilient-c, and recoup.  Now they have quietly replaced the go-go and resilient-c 10 calorie offerings with zero calorie offerings.  The recoup (peach mandarin) doesn’t appear to be on the market anymore, in favor of a zero calorie version of XXX, renamed as XOXOXO (acai-blueberry-pomegranate).  It appears that the United States’ transition in December 2010 has finally made its way north of the border this past April.  As it stands right now, there are 9 regular calorie flavors of vitaminwater, along with the three new low-calorie offerings.

One has to wonder why glaceau did not simply launch the zero-calorie offerings from day one, rather than wait a year to eliminate the 10 calories inside the bottle.  How did the 10 calories get eliminated after a few months’ launch into Canada?  Was it fear that Canadians would not adapt to the zero calories right away and needed to be transitioned away from calorie-filled beverages?  Was there a delay in getting approvals on the ingredients, particularly the sweetener?  In any case, the complete Canadian vitaminwater line-up still stands at 12 flavors.

Having 12 flavors makes it challenging to manage the product portfolio.  The benefit of this vitaminwater zero transition is that it will not impact the overall shelf spacing – only the existing area that vitaminwater product occupies.  However, 12 flavors for any product is quite significant, and getting a retailer to list all 12 at the same time will certainly be difficult.  Take for example Red Bull, which has found success with only three variations (Red Bull, Sugar Free Red Bull, and Red Bull Total Zero).  Or Coca-Cola, which also has three offerings (Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero).  Both these brands have fewer flavors and have been very successful.  Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy are also successful as a result of their broad portfolio of products – but not all products get listed in the retailer.  The most successful brands have fewer variations and can command more shelf space.  They also tend to be leaders in their respective categories.  vitaminwater seems to be buck that trend.

Is vitaminwater a leader in the enhanced or flavored waters category?  Sales data would almost guarantee it as such.  Why would they need so many flavors, when traditionally four or five flavors will be enough?  The answer is portfolio shelf space relative to sales.  If the vitaminwater portfolio commands 40% of the category sales, they should be allocated 40% shelf space.  After all, the argument is that the cooler space should reflect market conditions for the consumer.  This is why in the summer there are less shelf space allocated to juices, but more to water and sports drinks.  Having a broader portfolios always gives you more opportunities to create shelf space and in turn sales.  Just look at how Gatorade has been able to gain more shelf space following its prime/perform/recover extensions.  So while the majority of sales may come from the most popular flavors, the less popular flavors also have a significant role to play in creating and extending shelf space for the vitaminwater total portfolio.  Imagine that the sale for one vitaminwater flavor was marginal relative to the total portfolio, but had two shelf facings.  That flavor still remains on shelf to “hold space” for other better performing flavors, and allow the retailer to reduce that flavor to one facing while increasing facings for another better performing flavor.

Optimizing the shelf space ultimately falls onto the beverage category manager’s responsibility.  As long as vitaminwater’s broad portfolio keeps making sales, it makes difficult for other enhanced waters like Aquafina Plus to gain shelf space.  Once you secure the shelf space, it’s up to you to structure and space out your products to protect your shelf space.

 

 

 

vitaminwater spark…Yet Another Flavor

vw spark - courtesy of we-rate-stuff.comRegular readers of the blog will know that though I’m a fan of vitaminater as a brand, my belief is that this many varieties of vitaminwater undoubtedly cause cannibalization.  vitaminwater spark launched in mid-February, bringing the total count to 11 (9 vitaminwater flavors and 2 vitaminwater10) flavors.  spark is a blueberry grape flavor and has all the natural ingredients and healthy benefits that the other alternatives possess – it’s just a different flavor.

Unless spark has a niche following of open wallet consumers, it may follow vitaminwater rescue to be discontinued after some time on the market.  In any case, there is only so much demand for vitaminwater, or enhanced waters as a whole.  A consumer  that chooses any number of flavors will eventually stick to one or two, and keep on going back to these trusted choices.  Some (not all) of the remaining flavors may be popular but not to the same level as the favorites.  These flavors also remain on shelves contributing to incremental sales.  But since a grocery store has limited shelf space and must determine planograms, it is unlikely that all 11 flavors will be on shelf.

So how many flavors does a grocery store carry of vitaminwater, and how much shelf space does vitaminwater get?  Without getting into too much detail, vitaminwater’s top 4 flavors make up nearly 60% of their overall sales in the 20oz bottle size.  If the store manager or a category manager must make decisions to cut out flavors or keep only the best selling flavors (to make way for new products), usually 4 flavors of vitaminwater are kept.  So far, spark is not generating as much sales as XXX, focus, multi-V or essential.  Though its still very new to the market, I doubt it will match any of those item’s sales.

Therefore, it is like that there are no volume thresholds that spark must meet in order for glaceau to keep it on shelf, except providing their hydration experts (sales representatives) with incentives to keep pushing this product.

Next time you head into a grocery or convenience store where this product is sold, take a quick count of what flavors of vitaminwater are on shelf, and if spark is among those.  If the two new introductions before spark are not even on shelf, then it’s likely that the particular retailer does not have  an appetite to try any more vitaminwater flavors.

Natural Sweeteners for Beverages – Stevia

Stevia Plant

With the growing health-conscious trend, both consumers and organizations are placing an increased emphasis on limiting the calorie content in a beverage.  First it was using cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to replace sucrose, and now it’s using natural sweeteners to replace cane sugar and HFCS.  Since stevia is the main natural sweetener used for beverages, BevWire is writing a short piece on the stevia natural sweetener.

First of all, what is stevia and why are we using it?  Stevia is a plant-based sweetener and is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.  Extracted from plant leaves, stevia in its original form is found in the western parts of North and South America.  In addition to being sweeter, stevia also contains less calories (practically zero calories) making it a great alternative to replace cane sugar, HFCS, and sucrose.   With product commercialization and increased approvals from countries, stevia is now widely used in many countries as natural sweeteners, food additives and dietary supplements.  In North America,  stevia has been approved for use by Canada (Health Canada) and the US (FDA) in consumer goods.  Some notable names consumers may have heard are Truvia, PureVia, and SweetLeaf.  Truvia is the stevia brand that Coca-Cola uses in vitaminwater 10.  PureVia is the consumer brand of stevia found in Pepsi’s Aquafina Plus 10.

With all the health benefits related to stevia, why is it not being used by more companies and products?  One reason is cost.  It is not as widely cultivated as cane sugar or HFCS, and the product is still in the early acceptance stage, therefore making it more expensive to use compared to the other products.  Also, despite the health-conscious trend, consumers are still slow to accept natural sweeteners in replacement of their current beverage options.  The Sprite Green stevia-sweetened drink is a hit and miss depending on who you ask because the taste is different from what consumers are used to.  BevWire’s readers also commented that vitaminwater zero tasted vastly different from vitaminwater10.  Once consumers accept stevia as the healthy, low calorie sweetener for their beverages, the products manufactured with stevia will grow in number quickly.

vitaminwater10 arrives in Canada

vitaminwater10 gogo and recoup

BevWire recently recently wrote about new vitaminwater being introduced to the Canadian market (read here) and it turns out it was true but slightly inaccurate.  It turns out that yes, there will be more vitaminwater, but now it’s in the 10-calorie per bottle format.  Same bottle, similar packaging, and promising the same great taste with less calories.  In order to bring the calorie content down to 10, these two new flavors are naturally sweetened with Truvia (a plant based sweetener).

Two flavors are entering the Canadian market – Recoup and Go Go. Recoup will be a peach-mandarin flavor, and Go Go being a mixed berry flavor.  Recoup’s side label copy – (cue: movie trailer voice guy) in a world of neurotic bosses, in-laws, dying cell phones and agonizing relationship talks, one bottle stands alone.  naturally sweetened with only 10 calories per bottle and armed with vitamins b3, b5, b6, & b12 this tasty force of hydration can help you cope with whatever life throws your way, coming to tastebuds near you. And Go Go’s side label copy – how can you possibly be reading this label right now? isn’t there a meeting that you should be in? a gym you’ve been paying for? when everyday is a marathon something’s gotta give.  fortunately, this delicious source of hydration you’re holding has some vitamins and nutrients to help motivate you towards your daily finish line.  and to sweeten – or naturally sweeten – the deal,  we made it with only 10 calories.  now hurry and go – you’re already late! These two new flavors can be found anywhere your regular vitaminwater is sold – grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and mass merchandisers.

Is this a good time for glaceau to launch vitaminwater10?  While they are the market leader in the enhanced waters category, they are late to join the 10 calorie niche.  Aquafina Plus10 stepped into the Canadian market nearly a year ago and vitaminwater10 is only being made available?  We know that vitaminwater10 will be successful when it enters, but why take so long to come out with the innovations?  And will this mean that there will be less regular vitaminwater flavors now that there’s a 10 calorie version?

It turns out that Aquafina Plus10 has been experiencing a natural transition from the regular Aquafina Plus to the Aquafina Plus10 and also slightly growing market share.  This is likely related to a few factors: healthier perception of a lower calorie alternative, discontinuing slower moving Aquafina Plus options, and no innovations from its competitor.  Sources indicates that Aquafina Plus10 accounts for nearly half of their enhanced water sales since its launch in 2009.

That being said, vitaminwater figures that they were due for some innovation launch and should also release a lower calorie alternative to compete and regain lost market share.  However, the market can only sustain so many flavors and options for beverages – does this spell the end for some other flavor of vitaminwater? Aquafina Plus discontinued a few flavors when they launched the Plus10.  There will be a total of eleven glaceau vitaminwater and vitaminwater10 options if they do not delist something – definitely too much for the marketplace in my opinion.  That said, we have yet to see any vitaminwater10 in stores yet so either glaceau will be taking some flavors off the shelf themselves or grocery stores will do the delisting for them.

So my parting question for this week’s blog psot: if you were to discontinue one or two flavors of vitaminwater, which flavor would you choose?

vitaminwater10 to be repositioned as vitaminwater zero

Over the past few days, Coca-Cola has been in the news alot with numerous announcements.  First with the global introduction of its PlantBottle, followed with its dispute with Costco, to their World of Coca-Cola speech of their 2020 plans.  One point that was not lost of most people was the repositioning of vitaminwater10 to vitaminwater zero.

Currently, vitaminwater10 has 10 calories or less, but Coca-Cola claims it will be able to reduce calories completely out of this drink.  In addition, the flavors will be transitioned to vitaminwater zero flavors.  However, there were originally 8 flavors of vitaminwater10, so one flavor is being discontinued as a result of this repositioning – energy.  Is this flavor not performing well compared to the others?  Why discontinue one of the original flavors and stick with 4 of the newer, funky-name flavors?

This repositioning comes on the heels of a very impressive and successful launch for the vitaminwater10.  Does this take away all the brand equity built into vitaminwater10, because alot of marketing dollars will be wasted as a result of this shift?  What will be the consumer impact of this?  Consumers may likely believe that zero calories is better than 10 calories, but the taste may be severely compromised.  A lot of consumers have said that the xxx and essential flavors of vitaminwater10 do not taste as good as the full calorie offerings, and also have shifted back to the the full calorie beverages.  We will have to wait to see what happens following the rollout next year.

In other news, vitaminwater will receive a package lift with metallic labels and nutritional value on the labels.  BevWire believes this repackaging has benefits as well as shortcomings.  First the positive – indicating the nutritional value shows consumers the healthy content they are taking in with each bottle.  Not that the previous bottles did not show the nutritional value, but it was not as obvious.  However, the repacking to shiny, metallic also kind of indicates that vitaminwater is selling out, or going celebrity.  The original packaging was bland, but it worked.  Not only that, but it showed that the important thing was the beverage itself, not the packaging.  Now that the drinks are selling, they will repackage it to make it more…chic and flashy?  BevWire just doesn’t agree with this…

However, BevWire did mention that vitaminwater is over-proliferated, so maybe this will indirectly help them shrink back down and pick out which flavors sell the best.  Only time will tell….

vitaminwater10 adds 4 more: go-go, mega-c, recoup, and revitalize

vitaminwater10, the low calorie (only 10, hence the name) and naturally sweetened flavored water will double its offerings next month.  Starting August 17, 2009, go-go, mega-c, recoup, and revitalize will join xxx, energy, multi-v, and essential in the beverage company’s low calorie product offerings.  Here’s what vitaminwater has to say about their new flavors:

  • vitaminwater10 go-go (mixed berry): contains 250 milligrams of ribose, 100% vitamin c, 25% vitamin e and four b vitamins per bottle, because we know that every day is a marathon. we’ve formulated go-go to give you a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to help you reach your daily finish line.courtesy of bevnet.com
  • vitaminwater10 mega-c (grape raspberry): formulated with 250% vitamin c, 25% zinc, plus four b vitamins per bottle, to help keep your immune system fighting the good fight to stay healthy.
  • vitaminwater10 recoup (peach-mandarin): armed with 100% vitamin b3, b5, b6 and b12, per bottle, plus 100% vitamin c, because recoup was created to help you cope with whatever life throws at you.
  • vitaminwater10 revitalize (green tea): it can’t give you back your childhood, but it can load you up with 140 milligrams of protective antioxidants like vitamin c, egcg and green tea polyphenols per bottle. protective antioxidants can help to support your metabolism and immune system so you can fight those “aging” free radicals.

BevWire wonders what the impact (if any) these new flavors will have on consumers.  The regular vitaminwater green-tea flavor is called Rescue, whereas the 10-calorie edition is called Revitalize.  Power-C (also known as Mega-C) in Canada is a dragonfruit flavor, whereas the 10-calorie edition called Mega-C is a grape-raspberry flavor.

Has vitaminwater10 taken a new direction?  The original 4 flavors (xxx, energy, multi-v, and essential) kept the same name from both vitaminwater and vitaminwater10.  Now these 4 new flavors have different names and flavors.  Consumers may get confused about what the company is doing with these new flavors, since the names and flavors don’t match with what they expected from the regular flavors.

In addition, vitaminwater10 appears to be going down the same path as vitaminwater: too many flavors.  With 15 flavors of regular vitaminwater, and 8 flavors of vitaminwater10, that adds to up a total of 23 flavors!  Unless the company starts to narrow out the flavors, they risk cannabalization.  Sometimes, less is more.  The market is already saturated with numerous variations of this beverage, and consumers will simply be switching back and forth between the flavors.  In the end, the loser may be vitaminwater.

vitaminwater10: launching at a new york des10nation

vitaminwater10On April 2nd, vitaminwater10 was officially released.  This beverage is naturally sweetened and contains only 10 calories, and promises to taste the same as the regular vitaminwater beverages.  The low calorie drink is available in 4 flavors: xxx (Acai-Blueberry-Pomegranate), essential (Orange), citrus (Tropical Citrus), and multi-v (Lemonade).  To celebrate this launch, the company had Carmen Electra host a launch party in the New York Soho district.  The launch party was a highly exclusive event that only included the brand’s closest friends (guests included Madonna and 50cent, among other celebrities).  After this April 2nd launch party, vitaminwater10 extends the party to the public from April 3rd to April 12th from 10am to 7pm.  During this time, anyone interested can go and attend this event.  So what happened during the launch party?  Guests played on the Wii, competed on the foosball table, and snapped shots in the photo booth.  Waiters/waitresses also served guests vitaminwater10 in mini shotglasses.  If you are in the area, you can go and experience this launch party and bring some news back to BevWire, thanks in advance.

Now that vitaminwater is available in low calorie flavors, which promises to offer the same taste as the regular calorie flavors, why still make the regular calorie flavors?  Should they discontinue making these flavors?  The answer is no.

Not that vitaminwater has the same brand stature as Coke or Tropicana, but if they stopped making the regular flavors and phased customers into the low calorie flavors, they would be just as bad as New Coke or Tropicana’s one-and-done packaging.  The brand is still in its expansion phase outside of the United States, where vitaminwater10 isn’t even widely available yet.  To phase out certain flavors would stunt the brand’s growth, not to mention it would confuse customers on what the manufacturersare really offering.  You may find vitaminwater10 xxx listed in one place, while the regular vitaminwater xxx is only listed down the street.

However, glaceau is certainly walking the fine line between providing options to capture every last consumer and overloading the consumer with variety.  The company does seem to know what it is doing, so we’ll have to see if and when they reach the critical point where there are too many options available to consumers.