The purpose of this essay is to examine innocent drinks looking closely at its history, brand positioning, its ability to communicate its ideals via visual mediums, tone of voice and various forms of advertising outlets which have been key to its presence within the food and drinks sector whilst emphasising on its impact within this industry which is strongly emphasised in the afore mentioned as well as its brand values. I also intend to utilise this platform to highlight the brand's key strengths as well as its weaknesses which have been and remain pivotal to the brand's existence and growth within the food and drinks industry.
In 1998, Adam Balon, Richard Reed and Jonathan Wright, three friends who were students at the University of Cambridge sought out to create a fruit based drink based solely on the pulped, pure fruit based on six months of intense marketing research and testing which they carried out. With efforts on their research showing positive results, they decided to proceed further by taking time-off from their respective jobs within the marketing and consulting sector with the intention of investing their time and efforts into the sale of their pre-packed smoothies and juice drinks. At the time, the smoothie market was fast developing and they saw no reason why not to be involved in its development as players. In 1998, having spent over six months and £500 on fruit working on recipes, the collective then set up a smoothie stall at the Jazz on the Green festival, selling 250 ml bottles of their drinks for £1.89. At the time, what is known now as “innocent” was known as “Fast Tractor Smoothies”. This was in dedication to the collaboration they had struck with a farmer who ran a small fruit processing plant as well as owning bottling facilities near Nottingham. This discovery had led to a closely knit relationship been built with the farmer and the refinement of their recipes, as plant also involved the pasteurisation of the juice lightly, giving the drinks a longer shelf life of about four weeks and thus opening the gateway for full market testing.
The setting up of a stall to sell their smoothies at the Jazz on the Green event gave them the perfect opportunity to get feedback from a wide collection of individuals with the trio creating a placard that read “Should we give up on our own jobs to sell this?” with two bins boldly labelled “Yes” and “No”, urging the customers to place the empty plastic bottles in either of the bins which reflected their opinions of the product. With over 800 bottles in the “Yes” bin and very few in the bin labelled “No”, the die was cast and the three friends went back to work to hand in their resignation letters.
The primary objective of innocent as a brand is the production of smoothies, juices and flavoured spring water that are retailed in supermarkets, convenience stores and at other retail points. While these drinks are being sold nationwide, they also are being sold in retail outlets within European countries like Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland and Germany. Prior to entry into the smoothie sector in 1999, the industry was worth £400,000. As at 2010, Innocent had sold over two million smoothies per week and commanded 77.5% share of the smoothie market within the United Kingdom which at the time was worth £169m. While it must be noted that PJ Smoothies were the pioneers of such an industry within the UK, Innocent is stated by many to be the reason why the smoothie market gained the well needed recognition. This is to a reasonable degree attributed to its image and tone of voice as well as its offering (product).
Barnaby (2015) maintains that language remains in constant conflict with visual, and this creates barriers with regards to how much it can be made malleable to achieve the set goals of brand positioning, thereby influencing and affecting how much a brand is to thrive in today's world.
He proceeds further to emphasise that three main factors persists in utilisation of language in order to stand out.
The adoption of a distinct attitude to communicate the personality of the brand is the first of three major factors highlighted by Barnaby (2015). It is important to note that attitude in this context is part message and part tone with both often revealed in the brand's values which is often communicated when the right language is used.
The second factor to put into consideration is that every little detail is a major factor and should not be overlooked. Most brands forget that in order to maintain a reasonable level of intimacy and connection with established consumers, the amount of effort exerted in the utilisation of distinct language via high profile media like television campaigns, should also be extended through other outlets like order confirmations, instructional manuals/booklets, product release updates amongst many other outlets. Brands expressing themselves via these minute means go a long way to reveal attitude.
The third important factor to note is the humility factor. The humanisation of the brand. The brand's personality is often expressed in attitude of its use of language which is key to creating a connecting bridge between the audience and the brand. Emotional differentiation is often determined by the choice of language used to interact and communicate with the intended audience. Once a brand can take such a factor into consideration, own it and then appeal to their intended target audience, they forever stand to be recognised and remembered for such an attitude.
The implementation of these three factors have been pivotal to the success of Innocent as a brand.
Firstly, Innocent firmly stated their intent from the onset in the form of their values which are kept in mind in the making of decisions within the organisation with an overall goal of “Creating a business we can be proud of”. The core of the company's values are summarised in the five highlighted below;
Be natural – Keep produce 100% natural and healthy and treat other people fairly too.
Be entrepreneurial - Staying true to innocent's roots, chasing every opportunity.
Be generous – With charity, with feedback and time spent coaching, with rewards
Be commercial – Think clearly, act decisively and keep the main thing in order to create growth and profit for the business
Be responsible – Stick to the company's promises and do what's right, think about the consequences of actions and try to leave things better than you found them.
Innocent drinks were launched at a time when emphasis and awareness was being placed on the benefits inherent in natural foods. With their drinks being made from fresh fruits and with the consistent rise of health awareness within individuals i.e. popularity of organic produce , Jamie Oliver's School dinners on Tv etc., it must be noted that Innocent tapped into the consumer trend of the time and responded in a timely fashion that was highly advantageous to the progress of the brand.
The ability to communicate in a colloquial, relaxed and straight-to-the-point fashion with emphasis on humour which was based on the brand founders' way of communicating with other as well as with friends became a major factor in the brand's ability relate more to and with their intended audience. This verbal tool/ tone of voice communicated, avoided the impersonal corporate style approach, thereby creating the illusion that messages were written one person in mind. Also, the brand's origin story becomes a great platform for the involvement of consumers, with the yes no bins at the stall, the sign with “should we quit our jobs”. An excerpt from Profit Upgrade (2008) summarises the brands' intentions. ‘Their products are personalised excellence and are true to the values that the founders set, which is to use pure, fresh fruit served with greener than green credentials.'
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