P&G enters iced coffee category

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The bottled coffee category is expected to experience a big jolt next year as Procter & Gamble Co. unveils a new brand.

Jakada Iced Mocha Refresher is currently in test in Visalia, Calif., complete with an upbeat ad campaign from N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York, themed "Gotta getta Jakada."

P&G PLEASED WITH `LEARNINGS'

A P&G spokeswoman declined to discuss rollout plans, saying the test, which began in July, is still in its beginning stage. However, she said P&G is pleased with "early learnings," a sign the product has potential.

Early research, the spokeswoman said,

shows the product appeals to a broad array ofP&G tests Jakada

The product, available in mocha chocolate and mocha vanilla flavors, already has its own Internet address, linked to P&G's corporate site. Jakada is touted as a "refreshing swirl of mocha and chocolate" in a radio spot featuring people building a theater set who need a pick-me-up. Ayer, which also handles P&G's Folgers and upscale Millstone coffee lines, declined to discuss the advertising.

FRAPPUCCINO DOMINATES

The blended bottled coffee category, currently in its infancy, is now controlled by Frappuccino, a joint venture between Starbucks Coffee Co. and Pepsi-Cola Co. that began national distribution last year.

But the ready-to-drink category could experience a major growth spurt next year as marketers chase young consumers seeking alternatives to carbonated soft drinks.

Coca-Cola Co., too, has its eye on chilled coffees. In July, the marketer sought to trademark the name "Javalait." In its application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Coca-Cola identified the product as a "frozen coffee beverage." The marketer has a strong-performing coffee drink marketed abroad, Georgia Coffee, but no such entry in the U.S.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said she is unaware of Javalait and noted the company seeks trademarks all the time. "Sometimes they are used and sometimes they are not," she said.

Beverage Digest ranks blended coffee drinks as part of the growing $135 million shelf-stable dairy category. The category volume jumped 23% for the 52-week period ended Sept. 13. In its first full year of distribution, Frappuccino led the growth, doubling in share to 31.6% of category volume, and nipping at lagging category leader Yoo-Hoo.

These figures only include sales from supermarkets, mass merchandisers and drug chains, and don't account for sales from convenience stores, a key retail outlet for such impulse products.

KEY GROWTH DRIVER

Burt Flickinger, managing director of Reach Marketing, predicted caffeinated drinks will become second to bottled water as key industry growth drivers.

"The next generation of consumers is going to be much more heavily caffeinated," Mr. Flickinger said.

So far, ready-to-drink coffees haven't had a smooth ride. This month, Nestle USA told employees it is pulling its Nescafe Blended Ice Coffee line despite a relaunch last summer. Beverage Digest ranks Nescafe No. 8, with a 1.1% volume share of the shelf-stable dairy drink category. Other defunct products include Kraft Foods' Cappio, and Pepsi and Starbucks' Mazagran.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca, Jack Neff

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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