Snapple contacted me recently to see if I’d be interested in sampling the new formula for its tea and taking a gander at its new look that were “part of the most significant makeover in its 37-year history.”
I’m not going to get into trying to sell the product and, in fact, I’ve deliberately not tasted what they sent me before writing this blog post. I’m not a food critic, nor do I play one on TV. If you want to know what’s up with the new formula, you can read a blog post in the New York Times. The most significant change seems to be that they’ve replaced the high fructose corn syrup with real sugar, and it’s better for you. Go figure — I’ve been right all these years that sugar isn’t evil.
Anyway, what I was most interested in was the new marketing behind the new Snapple and on that front I do have some expertise to draw upon. Reaching out to bloggers to help spread the word isn’t anything new, but it does show that a company that’s been around for decades and prides itself on being rooted in tradition can learn how to adapt to the times. The company even has an account on Twitter. It’s refreshing — no pun intended — to see companies willing to change, even if the original e-mail pitch I received was a bit too corny and might have turned off some bloggers. Folks in the blogging world still like to think they are making their own decisions about content and not “selling out” to help pitch a brand. Well, a lot of them are, and those who are being compensated and not reporting it may soon have trouble with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
To help keep my review of the Snapple’s new look as untainted as possible, I enlisted the help of my daughters, ages 11 and 13, to take an objective look at the new labels and bottle design for Snapple. We looked at the bottle of tea Snapple sent (along with a t-shirt and a cool little wooden box, in the interest of full disclosure). Honestly, the kids were a lot more observant about the labels and bottle than I was. I noticed less garish coloring than on the old Snapple and, being a writer, I noticed the change in the label’s font.
The kids’ take on the label was that it seemed “friendly.” They also noticed the artwork that showed a bee, a tree, the sun and other stuff from nature that, apparently, is an attempt by Snapple to send the subliminal “all natural” theme. Dear Snapple, it worked on my kids, but on multitasking, borderline-ADD people like me, it may be too subtle.
When we took a field trip to see Snapple in its true marketing element — on the grocery store shelves — I saw the selling point of “all-natural” seem to make its biggest impression on the kids. Snapple and many other companies should think about impressing that generation rather than selling them at this point, and Snapple seems to be succeeding.
Despite being less garish, as mentioned before, the new labels actually caught the kids’ eyes faster on the store shelves. This is due, in part, to the location on the shelf being closer to their eye level, but it also seems that by being one of the bottles doing less screaming at them, it drew their attention. When teaching how to give presentations, I tell my students that changing your volume is important. Sometimes speaking quietly will grab your audience’s attention and make them listen to what you are saying even more — and Snapple seems to have done that in the grocery store.
The kids also felt that Snapple products seemed more natural because some of its competitors’ bottles were entirely wrapped in labeling. And, as my one daughter put it, “The glass bottle being visible makes it seem more refreshing — it makes you want to buy it because you can see the liquid inside and that suddenly makes you think your thirsty.”
One daughter also pointed out that a competitor’s bottles looked like it might contain alcohol because of its shape. That’s an interesting comment marketers should think about.
Whether the product’s new taste will make me want to drink it more remains to be seen, although I’m encouraged to see “sugar” on the label.
The bigger question is whether the new marketing will attract people like me and my kids to reach for Snapple when confronted with a choice in the grocery store. My extremely limited focus group tells me it’s quite possible. And while Snapple touts its ingredients, it seems that, these days, successful consumer marketing is the true “Best stuff on Earth.”