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The Marketing Strategy of Innocent Drinks
According to their website Innocent Drinks make 200 million in sales each year (Innocent Drinks 2015). That they are so dominant in the European smoothie and soft drink market and the market’s leading smoothie brand in the United Kingdom may also result from their distinctive marketing strategy and their unconv entional methods of selling their drinks and the associated experience for the consumers (see Simmons, 2011:12), which is conveyed through recipe books, many charity projects, experiential marketing with an own festival and with nature-oriented decorations of the company’s vans, their rule book and the brand message.
The three founders, Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright “have built Innocent from scratch into a £16-million brand growing at 80 per cent year on year” (Edwards et al., 2005:46). The company’s strategy must utilize the four Ps of the marketing mix, product, price, promotion and place (Stone, 2007:40), very well in order to be successful and predominant in their market since their founding in 1999 (Innocent Drinks 2015). The marketing mix was first introduced by Edmund Jerome McCarthy who divided his marketing theory into those four terms. Drummond and Ensor state that “the 4Ps are the vital decision areas for marketing managers, as they offer controllable variables which can be innovatively applied to specific markets” (Drummond et al., 2005:8). Moreover, these variables are interrelated and, in the end, act as a single unit for the consumer (see ibid.).
McCarthy describes the function of a product as “consumer satisfaction or benefits” (McCarthy, 1960:209) and explaines that “in all cases, we are selling the satisfaction or use derived or expected from the purchase of the product” (ibid.). A similar definition was mentioned by Drummond and Ensor: “products are solutions to customers’ needs” (Drummond et al., 2005:9). Innocent states on
their website that they make “natural, delicious, healthy drinks that help people live well and die old” (Innocent Drinks 2015). In the context of McCarthy’s theory this would imply that their product is not only the smoothie or drink but the satisfaction of the consumer and the promise of natural ingredients and, as a consequence, a healthier consumer.
“Sometimes a product is not useful unless properly installed and instructions given for its use” (McCarthy, 1960:210), which is reflected in the advertising and the company’s corporate image as well as their slogan “tastes good does good” (Innocent Drinks 2015), which alltogether delivers a certain message to the potential customer. Notions of health, delivered by their promise of natural ingredients in their pure drinks, and charity, by donating “a minimum of 10% of profits each year to charity” (ibid.), are being used to make their product desired by the consumers and connect the purchase of a juice or smoothie with a healthier body and a reduction of world hunger.
This connotation, in return, fullfills McCarthy’s interpretation of a product’s function. To embrace the image of Innocent being highly involved in charity the organization founded the innocent foundation, explaining on their website: “we give grants to charities working all over the world so that they can help the world’s hungry” (Innocent Foundation 2015). Thereby they include other aspects in their brand message and corporate image like sustainability, especially with their packaging, as well as social responsibility, which are being conveyed with every sold drink. “Sustainability is a core part of who we are” (Innocent Drinks 2015) is said on their website, followed by listing their company values: “to be natural, generous, commercial, entrepreneurial and responsible” (ibid.)
Innocent Drinks expanded their product offerings, which McCarthy terms “product differentiation”, from just smoothies to juices, coconut water, so-called bubbles and special drinks for children to cover a more diverse market and reach a diversified target audience. According to the product, the brand message and the corporate image Innocent tries to reach a specific healthand charity-orientated target audience even thought they have extended their product range by adding products that still fit their product policy.
Innocent smoothies and drinks are premium priced within its specific market. This may also be down to the fact that they donate ten percent of every purchase to charity. McCarthy explains that the marketing manager “must make price decisions which, in turn, determine the firm’s revenue” (McCarthy, 1960:576) and “businesses obviously must make sales, and price has an important bearing on the volume of sales” (ibid.). Furthermore he states that “price may not be the determining factor but it is a qualifying factor, since it must remain within a reasonable range” (ibid.). That Innocent drinks are higher priced than other drinks, with two to four pounds per drink, and are still being bought by the majority of the consumers it is likely to say that this is a result of their health and charity campaigns as well as their donations. That Innocent leads the market although their products are higher-priced may imply that the prince range is justifiable.
In terms of discounts the grocery stores that sell Innocent products use quantity discounts to induce consumers to buy more of this particular product series and stick with the product long-term. Sainsbury’s, for example, uses discounts like “buy any 2 for £5.00” while one single smoothie costs £3.00.
McCarthy describes the process of promotion as follows: “sometimes consumers, before they can appreatiate a product’s potential, must be shown or told how a product can add to their total satisfaction” (McCarthy, 1960:210) and later in his theory as “communication with the potential consumer” (McCarthy, 1960:502). Or as Drummond and Ensor define promotion: “the promotional element of the mix provides communication with the desired customer group” (Drummond et al., 2005:9). According to Stone and Desmond promotion “include[s] advertising, public relations and sales promotions” (Stone, 2007:41). Besides various television adverts and other advertising Innocent Drinks regularly publish press releases on their website in order to explain their products and strategies (Unattributed, 2015a). They announced, for example, the deal with Coca Cola and the launch of their new coconut water.
McCarthy defines that “the objectives of promotion are to inform, persuade, or remind consumers of the company’s marketing mix” (McCarthy, 1960:480). In order to be successful with a promotional strategy companys have to inform “customers of the availability of supplies”, operate “outside promotion” and contact the costumer personally “in order to inform and persuade them of the product’s merit” (ibid.). Innocent Drinks do that by advertising their products in television spots, radio commercials, a constant and daily presence on several social media accounts like facebook, twitter, instagram and youtube, as well as by providing their costumers with an emotional brand story and charity involvement, a weekly newsletter and blog on their website with “daily thoughts”. Thereby they promote their products both on a collective and a personal level.
According to McCarthy effective promotion is related to four aspects, getting attention, holding interest, arouse desire and obtain action, also called AIDA, which are similar to the previously mentioned objectives of informing, persuading and reminding (see McCarthy 1960:481). Innocent Drinks cover all aspects by combining several campaign techniques and providing the consumer with information and even a story and a promise of what happens after buying a drink: supporting charity and improving one’s own health.
Besides this the life cycle of a product also influences the promotional techniques being used. McCarthy mentions several stages: “introduction, market growth, market maturity and sales decline” (McCarthy, 160:485). Juices and smothies like those of Innocent must be at the stage of market maturity due to many competitors and various similarities between the products on the market.
The promotion of a product can only be successful if all other aspects - price, place, quality and usefulness, etc. - work along and seem reasonable to the consumer (see McCarthy, 1960:489). Innocent combines a higher priced mass market product, whereby its price includes a certain percentage that is being donated, with a health- and charity-related brand message that tries to deliver a feeling of having bought something good for the consumer himself and others, aiming at increasing the customer’s wellbeing and reaching his conscience.
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