The Coca-Cola Co. unit in October will extend distribution for Minute Maid Coolers beyond the Midwest and Southwest markets where it was introduced in summer 1999. Results from the initial markets show Coolers, along with another new line, Hi-C Blast, drove up sales for single-serve juice boxes and pouches (known collectively as the aseptic juice drink category) by double digits.
OLDER KIDS TOO
Equally important, the two lines successfully brought older kids back to the non-refrigerated beverage aisle. Minute Maid plans to expand Hi-C Blast to national distribution next year as well.
"The category was basically flat up until the time we launched the new products and hadn't grown in four or five years," said Rick Zuroweste, director of marketing for kids beverages at Minute Maid. "In-market data indicate that both lines appeal to an older audience than our current boxed juice drinks, and that's our strategy, since tweens will consume up to 50% more than their younger siblings."
Sales for the aseptic juice drink category rose 24.8% to $653 million for the 52 weeks ended June 18, according to Information Resources Inc. Category leader Capri Sun, marketed by Kraft Foods, grew 25.8% to $345 million during the period.
Mr. Zuroweste said the cannibalization of Minute Maid's existing boxed brands has been minimal because of the age segmentation; sales for its Hi-C boxes fell 5.1% to $152 million, while sales for its Minute Maid Premium boxes fell 14.3% to $22 million. Meanwhile, Coolers grew to $10.3 million and Hi-C Blast to $25 million for the same period.
To support the national launch of Coolers, Minute Maid will more than double the marketing budget put toward the brand in the regional markets, Mr. Zuroweste said. Although he declined to specify exact numbers, the marketer spent $1.5 million in measured media against Coolers in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting, and has put a lot of muscle behind trial-driv-ing vehicles, including sampling and in-store displays.
A TALKING POUCH
For its initial national ad launch of Coolers in January, Minute Maid will extend the campaign it used to introduce the line in regional markets. The campaign, from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, features a hip talking pouch named Punch who touts the easy-open benefit of the contour pouch and the product's real fruit flavor. Varieties include Pink Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Tropical Punch and Berry Punch.
The ads will run on tween-targeted programming including the WB network's "Dawson's Creek" as well as Nickelodeon's "Nick at Nite" and "TVLand." The ads are aimed at kids aged 9 to 14 and moms "who expect Minute Maid to be a healthful and quality product," Mr. Zuroweste said.
In mid-2001, Minute Maid will launch a new campaign to build the Coolers brand. Creative from Burnett is still in development. Additional plans include newspaper inserts, in-store couponing and a sampling program.
Minute Maid's Hi-C Blast will continue to be advertised in the regional markets as a fun, energetic brand for kids 9 to 12.
The reasoning behind extending the Coolers brand nationally is that Coolers carries the Minute Maid name. That fits with the current company strategy to contemporize the flagship brand and "create lifelong Minute Maid users," Mr. Zuroweste said.
Plans call for Minute Maid to be national with both new brands by the end of 2001.