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Snapple Beverage Corp. President-CEO Leonard Marsh is promising a major new-product introduction next March.

"It will be the most mind-boggling product in the history of drinks," he boldly insisted. "I'm talking really different ... Six weeks after we launch it, everybody else will be trying to copy us."

But that won't be easy, Mr. Marsh said.

"We've come up with a really special mix. It's pleasant when going down, and it leaves a fresh taste in your mouth for a while."

A mint mix, perhaps?

"Nope," said Arnold Greenberg, chief operating officer. "It's refreshing like an ice beer. But it's not a beer. Don't try to guess. It's easier to hit the lottery."

The two expect the new, still unnamed product to help Snapple continue dominating the New Age beverage market. As the No. 1 ready-to-drink iced tea marketer, Snapple is fighting off a growing challenge from the No. 2-ranked Pepsi-Lipton Tea Partnership's Lipton brand, as well as Coca-Cola Nestle Refreshments' Nestea and upstart Arizona Iced Tea from Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons (see story on Page 31).

Snapple had $104 million, or 41%, of the $256.4 million iced tea sales in supermarkets alone for the 52 weeks ended April 17, according to Information Resources Inc. But the company lost dollar and unit share, mainly to Lipton, for the year-to-date through May 14, Beverage Digest reported.

Advertising, from Kirshenbaum & Bond, New York, will increase as long as sales grow. The company, now running a $65 million campaign, pledges to continue to use 5% of sales for advertising and 5% for promotions.

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