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Unable to match orange juice rivals Tropicana and Minute Maid with marketing dollars, Walter Lincer of Florida's Natural does the obvious: leverage little-ness.

"We have turned small into an advantage," says the VP-sales & marketing for Citrus World, which markets Florida's Natural, last year's fastest-growing orange juice brand.

Mr. Lincer, 50, joined Citrus World 15 years ago after holding a variety of sales and marketing positions at Lever Bros. At the time, the co-op of 1,100 citrus growers harvested 90% of its sales from private-label brands of frozen-concentrate juice.

But in 1987, with the frozen market melting away, Citrus World decided to enter the fast-growing market for pasteurized, non-concentrate juice. Since then, Florida's Natural has grown steadily, recording annual double-digit sales increases and finally achieving national distribution in 1995.

Last year, sales of the brand increased 18% to $162 million, according to Information Resources Inc. Market leader Tropicana grew just 5%, to $824 million.

Citrus World's smallness has given it two advantages. One is an ability to execute quickly. It pulled off a licensing agreement with Chiquita Brands International after Tropicana acquired Dole's juice-drink brands last year.

"We don't have a bureaucracy. Our marketing department has three people in it," Mr. Lincer says.

The second advantage is underdog appeal. Ads from WestWayne, Atlanta, feature the co-op's growers in their fields, with a narrator talking about their simple, homespun approach to the business. Mr. Lincer likes being the little guy. "Why do you want to write about us?" he asks. "I think you should write about Tropicana. They're a much bigger success than we are."

Mark Gleason

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