February 09, 2004
How To

How Snapple Brings a Powerful Personal Touch to Mass Consumer Marketing

SUMMARY: How can you turn a commodity - such as a bottle of juice - into a brand that consumers have a strong personal relationship with? Here are some tips and stories from Snapple, including

- Look beyond big-ticket events to find the public eye

- Over-the-top response to customer queries

- A fun Web site that encourages interactivity
Few brands have such passionate followings as Snapple: When the company came out with a drink called The Wonder from Down Under, flipping the Snapple logo upside down to play off the Down Under theme, fans called the company out of concern.

They said, "Hey, your labels are upside down, you might want to correct it," says Sheryl Adkins-Green, former SVP of Marketing for the Snapple Beverage Group.

Adkins-Green attributes much of that passion for the brand to the company's personal contact with consumers. "There's so much marketing out there," she says. "Whenever you can have personal interaction, it goes a long way."

We talked to Adkins-Green about how the company makes the most of multiple touch-points to interact with consumers, earn their loyalty, and keep them passionate.

Touchpoint #1. Over-the-top response to customer queries

The Snapple team knew it would take more than just a uniquely shaped bottle to engage consumers with packaging. They came up with "Real Facts" hidden under each bottle cap: quirky and down- to-earth statements such as, "The average raindrop falls at 7 miles per hour."

As hoped, consumers do indeed become engaged with the caps. "Snapple often gets calls and letters from kids or teachers saying they use Real Facts every day," says Adkins-Green.

But the company doesn't let it end there. They respond to every call and letter, in ways you might not imagine. Here are two examples:

o Example a. "The elbow-licker"

"One principal was reading Real Facts over the PA every morning," Adkins-Green says. One of the facts he read was "Human beings can't lick their elbows."

"So of course there was one kid who tried and could actually lick his elbow, so they called us, and we said we'd love to see it."

Representatives of the company traveled to the school for a program to see the boy lick his elbow. The media came; Snapple -- and the boy -- got plenty of local press.

o Example b. "The proposal"

A man who wanted to propose to his girlfriend contacted the company and explained how he and his girlfriend were both fans of Snapple and Real Facts.

The Snapple team created a few special bottles of Peach Iced Tea for the boyfriend. The Real Facts under the lids reading something like, "on this date Ryan Blaire asked Mandi Sherwood to be his wife" Adkins-Green explains. The couple stocked up with Snapple, went camping, and came home engaged.

Touchpoint #2. Look beyond big-ticket events to find the public eye

Local events are a good opportunity to gain visibility, says Adkins-Green, especially during summer months. "During live events, have someone out there where people can sample the product," she says.

The event could be cause-related -- or it could just be something that fits your brand's image.

"One line extension was called Go Bananas," she explains. "We went down to the big post office in New York on April 15, tax day, when everyone's going bananas," and handed out the drink.

"You don't have to do huge sponsorships," she says. "There are always so many worthwhile events."

Touchpoint #3. A fun Web site that encourages interactivity

The idea behind the Snapple site was to create a place people could visit and interact that would reflect the diversity of the fans, Adkins-Green says.

Dubbed "Snappleton," the site -- like the drink -- is built on "flavor" and color. "There's a museum where you can learn about the history, there's a Real Facts section where you can play a game. You can feel the variety," she says.

When it comes to online promotions, the company pushed interactivity to the limit. Two examples:

o Example a. "What's Your Story"

This promotion encouraged consumers to tell something that happened to them while drinking a Snapple. Hundreds of people sent in stories; consumers then voted for their favorites. The winning two were made into TV commercials (also seen online.)

The characters in the commercials were Snapple bottles. "To help people get closer to the brand, there are all sorts of back stories (online), like how the bottles auditioned for the parts," Adkins-Green says.

o Example b. Snapple yard sale

Last summer, Snapple created silver collector's caps reminiscent of the quarters that commemorate each of the 50 states. The company invited people to collect their caps as currency to purchase things in an online yard sale.

Merchandise included soap dishes, shower curtains, bowling balls, and downloadable ringtones for cell phones. "Some were special goods that we worked on with marketing partners. A number of things were specific to Snapple, but some things were not, like LiteBrite."

For 10,000 Snapple Lemonade caps, you could even purchase an old yellow Cadillac. "The joke was that it was a lemon, because it didn’t run well," she says. Someone actually sent in 10,000 caps, and after the company had validated them, they loaded the car up with Snapple lemonade and drove it personally to the winner.

Touchpoint #4. Licensing fun products from a fun brand

Soon to arrive on store shelves: a Snapple game and Snapple lip gloss.

Why lip gloss? "Well, they're going to be colorful and have some of the taste notes. For example, Snapple Apple is a fun, bright red juice drink, so a lip gloss would have a little bit of that apple taste," Adkins-Green says.

To be successful and meaningful with merchandising, "it has to be more than just sticking your logo on an item," she explains. "It has to be a product that reflects the quality of your brand. Teens and young adults love fun colors and fun cosmetics."

Marketing a brand successfully through personal touch might take a little leg work, but the interaction is worth it, she says. "If someone says to a friend, 'Hey, the Snapple lady drove up and gave me a cold lemonade on a hot day,' that goes a long way."

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