Coca-Cola's Minute Maid Rivals Coke as Powerhouse Brand

Despite Losing Huiyuan Takeover Bid, Soft-Drink Giant Maintains Juice Focus in China With Ingredients Like Aloe and Help From Pop Star Eason Chan

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Coca-Cola introduced its new spokesman for Minute Maid Pulpy in China, Hong Kong pop star Easen Chan, at a party in Guangzhou
Coca-Cola introduced its new spokesman for Minute Maid Pulpy in China, Hong Kong pop star Easen Chan, at a party in Guangzhou
GUANGZHOU ( -- Coca-Cola Co. is promoting Minute Maid Pulpy in China using the popularity of the internet in that country as well as the star power of Hong Kong pop singer Eason Chan. Chinese can produce and upload videos that show how they consume Minute Maid Pulpy, a variation on the global juice brand Minute Maid with added fresh fruit-pulp that was created specifically for the Chinese market in 2004.

Consumers can also view and vote on videos made by others on the "How Do you enjoy your Minute Maid Pulpy?" digital platform, which is hosted online by, a major Chinese instant-messaging and social-networking portal, and the video site

Finalists will be selected by a panel of experts, and the winner will be given the opportunity to serve as a director for the behind-the-scenes video for the next Minute Maid TV commercial in China.

While the drink's added pulp is one of the biggest selling points of the brand, said Andres Kiger in Shanghai, Coke's senior director of marketing in China, "this year we're getting more into the ways consumers enjoy Minute Maid. Everyone has different rituals about how they like to drink it and shake it or stir it in a certain way."

Coke introduced the contest May 19 at a Minute Maid-branded party at Guangzhou University in southern China. More than 1,000 consumers turned up to watch Mr. Chan, Coke's new Minute Maid spokesman, perform skits he created for the contest. Video footage of his show will be posted on Coke's Minute Maid Pulp web site in China,

China is second-largest Minute Maid market
Noncarbonated beverages like juices, waters and teas are often favored by Asians over sugary, carbonated soft drinks, including in China, where Coca-Cola sells a wide range of products. But Minute Maid has turned into a powerhouse brand for the U.S. company in the mainland. China is Coke's third-largest market globally in total sales, but it is the second-largest market for Minute Maid after the U.S. -- and it continues to grow by double-digit figures there.

Minute Maid Pulpy has been "hugely successfully" in China, said Darren Marshall, the Hong Kong-based group marketing director Coke's Pacific Group division. Strong sales there encouraged the company to introduce the drink in other Asian market such as India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, where it also sells well.

But China is a critical market for Coca-Cola, both in product innovation and business development. In March 2009, it opened a $90 million R&D center in Shanghai and plans to pump an additional $2 billion
Coca-Cola's Andres Kiger
Coca-Cola's Andres Kiger
in new plant and distribution infrastructure, sales and marketing over the next three years in China. It also attempted buy two-thirds of China Huiyuan Juice Group, the mainland's largest producer of pure fruit juices, for $2.4 billion, but the Ministry of Commerce declined to approve the deal in March 2009.

The Minute Maid Pulpy party in Guangzhou was also used to launch the fourth Minute Maid Pulpy flavor, a grape juice drink with bits of fresh aloe vera. Coke launched Minute Maid Pulpy five years ago in orange and grapefruit flavors. In early 2009, it rolled out a tropical fruit version.

Grape and aloe is fourth flavor
Coke is promoting the fourth flavor of Minute Maid Pulpy as well as the online contest with above-the-line print and TV ads created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Shanghai, while media planning and buying was managed by Starcom. Both agencies are part of Publicis Groupe. Heartland Media, which is partly owned by Aegis Media's Posterscope unit, and the independent shop Best Shine coordinated outdoor media and events, respectively.

The digital aspects of the contest -- the heart of the campaign -- were handled by Wwwins Consulting in Shanghai, part of the Aegis-owned Isobar network.

Digital media "gives consumers a fun and engaging way to say how they enjoy Minute Maid Pulpy. When they feel a connection with a brand, they have desire to participate. Digital media gives them a platform," Mr. Kiger told AdAgeChina shortly after the launch party. "There is pent up demand here to tell a story. We're already receiving submissions and the humor and production values are amazing."

The beverage giant created a similar program in early 2009,
to celebrate Chinese New Year, inviting consumers to share a Coke with friends and family online. That promotion attracted 5 million submissions during the weeks surrounding the holiday.

China is now the world's largest web market with roughly 300 million users. The internet is also the primary source of entertainment and information for young adults in urban areas, the juice brand's core target market, 18-to-24 year-old consumers.

But Minute Maid Pulpy's appeal stretches to both older and younger consumers. Coke sold over 1 billion bottles of Minute Maid Pulpy in China last year consumed by over 100 million consumers.

"A lot of people have a relationship with Minute Maid," Mr. Kiger said. "But we're optimistic there is a lot of room to grow all of our brands in China."

China is an R&D center
The new flavor, grape with aloe, is more than an extension of the Minute Maid Pulpy portfolio. It is the latest example of Coke's heavy investment in R&D over the years in Asia, a hotbed of product development that often turns out unusual ingredients and innovative approaches to marketing, sales and package design.

The company has created regional research centers for each of its brands to develop products, packaging, marketing and consumer insights that can be applied across different markets and product lines. The center in Shanghai is the newest and most expensive, but the company operates other centers in key Asian cities like Manila and Bangkok.

Coke has also been experimenting with aloe, an additive Asians associate with health benefits, for brands such as Nestea in Hong Kong and South Korea. The beverages have small but chunky pieces of aloe that are almost chewy.

Mr. Kiger said it's too soon to say whether the new Minute Maid Pulp flavors, tropical fruit and white grape with aloe, will be introduced outside China, "but the intent is to capitalize on as many joint platforms as possible."

China is the second-largest market for Minute Maid after the U.S.
China is the second-largest market for Minute Maid after the U.S.

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