The purpose of this essay is to examine innocent drinks looking closely at its history, primary objectives, how the brand is projected via its values, tone of voice, its logo as well as its use of advertising to communicate its messages 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
The origin story found online (Case study) mentions that 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 advertising and management consultancy 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. Capitalising on their educational background and the many contacts made whilst within the management consultancy and advertising roles. They were able to gain access to Maurice Pinto, an American business man, who eventually became the fourth shareholder in exchange for 20 percent stake.
Innocent: The Brand
The primary objective of innocent as a brand is the production of smoothies, juices and flavoured spring water, as well as packed meals with a health conscious approach, utilising ingredients that are natural and healthy whilst maintaining the innocent values, and these 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. Ball (2011) makes clear that as at 2010, Innocent had sold over two million smoothies per week and commanded 77% share of the smoothie market within the United Kingdom which at the time was worth £150m. 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).
The innocent brand image is one of fun and a free-spirit approach to life reflected in the logo, its packaging, and the promotion used to project the brand to the intended audience.
Benson (n.d) 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 exist in employing 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 Benson (n.d.). 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 earn the much needed recognition 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 (Innocent drinks, n.d.) 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, as well as treat other people fairly too. This also implies being themselves as much as possible which is reflected in the brands' approach.
Be entrepreneurial – The company started from a very place and it has become very evident that they try ve¬ry hard to stay true to innocent's roots, whilst 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 as well as delivering ultimate satisfaction to their customers.
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 forward fashion with emphasis on humour which was based on the brand founders' way of communicating with each other as well as with friends became a major factor in the brand's ability to 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 with 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”.
The ability to convey the intention of the brand via its packaging stands as one of the most important factors to its success, with emphasis being placed on the back of the carton or box, with this space being used to encourage dialogue with customers, cutting out the need for focus groups. In order to buttress this point. Germain as cited by CreativeBloq (Case Study: Innocent drinks 2007) mentions that ‘' There are 90 to 100 words on the back of the product which, from the beginning, have always been our advertising space and a way of talking to people. We have a full time team of people who get 500 to 600 emails a week. Talking to people who drink our drinks is the best way to get to know people, not through artificial situations. Figures 1, 2 and 3 illustrates this point.
Figure 1. Cheeky messages in unexpected places. London copywriter 2011.
Figure 2. Message underneath the bottle (2014)
Figure 3. Innocent smoothie. London copywriter (2011) Innocent smoothies' distinctive label copy
The implementation of the “Big knit” campaign initiative (Figure ), one that sees innocent drinks in collaboration with Age UK to help vulnerable older people during the winter and with a contribution of 25p from the sale of each bottle sold, is an idea that stays in line with the values the company set from its inception. The brand also donates 10 percent of profit made to charity in support of some global projects aimed at the prevention of hunger.
The ‘dude', (see Figure 4) innocent's logo, the round figure with two eyes and a halo, has come to represent what the company stands for. The use of the halo, an important element in religious iconography which features in sacred art and imagery of the Ancient Greeks, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism just to name a few, represents holiness within such religious contexts and communicates the company's intention to adhere to being transparent in its approach to the creation of its products and the use of fresh ingredients for its customers. This is aptly described by one source (The Idealist, 2013) which states that the innocent name in itself speaks to the idealist archetype, as does the simple packaging (in pure white), the iconic ‘baby face' and saint's halo, and the simple and clear labelling which reiterates that the products contain no artificial ingredients. (The three founders categorised themselves first as the target audience as they were young, working within urban environments and were within positions that commanded a good income. So, the question then became; what do we like? This then led to emphasis being placed on fresh, natural ingredients (fruits) which could be condensed into a bottle for consumption, making this an ideal substitute for fresh fruits but still maintain part of the five-a-day daily requirement, since most fruit drinks were made mainly from concentrate with additives like colours, sweeteners and preservatives.
This is further highlighted by Germain (Case Study: Innocent drinks 2007) who mentions three main concepts stand to underline what Innocent represent: ‘'home-made, natural looking and a bit posh''. The three founders also had the intention of making the drinks packaged in ways that would be small enough to be grabbed on the go whilst at lunch as well as induce a bit of fun into the whole process.
Figure 4. Innocent logo. Source: www.Innocentdrinks.co.uk/photos-and-logos
Innocent employ of advertising is one that sees the utilisation of visuals and copy that is witty and straightforward. This is highlighted in its television advert for its smoothies, as well as other chosen media outlets. Figures 2, 3, and 4 are common examples of adverts used to communicate the intended message.
Figure 5 . Innocent Drinks (n.d.) Innocent smoothies
Figure 6 . Innocent drinks advert 2003
This is also emphasised in other materials such as humorous booklet: the innocent health guide handed out to new retailers who sign up to market their products. The combination of product information with fun stories in newsletters helps build good relationships with retailers.
Also, in its bid to maintain a distinct level of uniqueness, the package designs for the innocent drinks had to steer clear from the usage of graphic heavy packaging and the reliance on simplicity of the packaging to communicate the brand's ideals.
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.' This statement is also mirrored in the company's sourcing for the packaging for these drinks which are made from recycled materials (innocentdrinks.com, 2016).
Innocent drinks stands as the market leader in the Uk with major controlling share of the market. It has come to be recognised for the reputation it has for fruit juices made from fresh fruit which appeals to a health conscious collective, as well as the expansion of its product range to include products for children, and a line of healthy vegetable ready meals. This diversity stands as a strong point for the company as its reach extends from children to adults of all spheres of life. Its innovative approach in its product range is advantageous to its growth, with over 30 different recipes. The brand embraces and maintains a high level of corporate social responsibility which is reflected in their collaborations with charities and donations to help those in less fortunate positions. It is also necessary to note ingredients and packaging utilised are sourced from organisations that are socially and environmentally aware.
The association with McDonalds created negative press for the company as McDonalds is labelled ‘unhealthy' by many. Also, the company's association with Coca Cola was also seen by many as going against the ideals of the company. The sale of control shareholdings which amounted to at least 90 percent ownership, led to many questioning the ethics behind the brand. The founders were made to step aside from the daily management duties to executive committee roles, insisting the brand's ethics wouldn't be compromised. This takeover by Coca Cola followed its initial purchase in 2008 of a 10 percent stake. This then led to change in the way the company was viewed by a collection of its customer base who view it as a corporation seeking to make profit by any means without sticking to the goals and values for which they have become renowned.
Another weakness identified is the premium pricing. This in turn is due to premium suppliers of exotic fruits not found within the region of the production of these drinks. Innocent is perceived as a premium brand holding a customer base that is lower in comparison to brands of supermarket chains which are cheaper. Information found online (Sugar- the hidden drug, no date) that while innocent smoothies are made from 100 percent fruit and one of its 250ml bottles counts as two of five portions of the required daily fruit intake with vitamin c and fibre as major benefits, innocent smoothie which is made up of pomegranates, blueberries and acai fruit possess the equivalent of 3.5 krispy Kreme original glazed donuts. (http://www.lordwandsworth.org/sugar--the-hidden-drug-246996.html).
Reference List / Bibliography
Ball, J. Innocent smoothie maker says charity cash bottled for best interest rate. Available at http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/may/26/innocent-smoothies-charity-cash (Accessed: 10th March 2016)
Benson, B. (n.d.) Building a strong brand personality with words (Online) http://www.warc.com.arts.idm.oclc.org/Content/ContentViewer.aspx?MasterContentRef=63570356-c154-4853-9b03-1ebbe1a650c6&q=(innocent+AND+brand+AND+tone+AND+voice)&CID=A105469&PUB=MKT (Accessed 2nd March 2016)
Case Study: Launching “innocent” into the growing Fruit smoothie market (2012). Available at http://www.iuc-edu.eu/group/sem1_L1/2012%20IFT%20Marketing/Innocent.pdf (Accessed: 1st March 2016)
CreativeBloq. Case Study: Innocent drinks (2007) Available at http://www.creativebloq.com/branding/case-study-innocent-drinks-1079599 (Accessed: 1st March 2016)
Innocent Drinks (n.d.) Our Values. (Online) Available from http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/us/careers (Accessed 2nd March 2016).
Lord Wandsworth (no date) Sugar – the hidden drug? Available at http://www.lordwandsworth.org/sugar--the-hidden-drug-246996.html (Accessed: 3rd March 2016)
O'Reily, L. (2014). 15 Things Hardly anyone knows about Innocent Smoothies. Available at http://uk.businessinsider.com/unusual-facts-about-innocent-smoothies-2014-12?r=US&IR=T (Accessed 3rd March 2016)
The Idealist (2013). Available at http://www.inspectorinsight.com/archetypes/the-idealist-archetypes-9/ (Accessed 3rd March 2016).
Figure 1. Innocent Drinks (n.d.) innocent smoothie (label copy) Available at http://www.londoncopywriter.co.uk/index.php/2011/08/5-examples-of-packaging-copy-i-wish-id-written/ (Accessed: 3rd March 2016)
Figure 2. Innocent bottle (2014) innocent bottle. Available at http://uk.businessinsider.com/unusual-facts-about-innocent-smoothies-2014-12?r=US&IR=T (Accessed 3rd March 2016)
Figure 3. Innocent Drinks (n.d.) innocent smoothie (label copy) Available at http://www.londoncopywriter.co.uk/index.php/2011/08/5-examples-of-packaging-copy-i-wish-id-written/ (Accessed: 3rd March 2016)
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