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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Snapple Q&A

1. How would you characterize Snapple’s brand image and sources of brand equity? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the brand’s existing personality and image?

Snapple is the luxury good for the average person- a Porsche for the poor. It defines itself as new age and quirky. It has some similarities with Red Bull in that it created a product category and did it their own way but it is less edgy and geared more to mainstream America. It has a quirky and a bit of a rebellious everyman vibe. It equity comes from being a different non carbonated drink, natural ingredients and the slogan ‘the best stuff on earth’. They also have equity from differentiation and the introduction of new taste experiences to the consumer. Originally, they had equity in being so ‘every man’ and approachable.

2. Where did Quaker go wrong? What could it have done differently? Is Cadbury in danger of making the same mistakes as Quaker did?

Quaker went wrong at step one. They should never have acquired Snapple as it did not fit the company ethos in any way. I watched many Snapple commercials on Youtube and several Quaker Oats commercials and there are fundamental differences in philosophy apparent in the way the companies portray themselves. Quaker Oaks is solid, middle America, wellness oriented and the ads are high quality and high minded. Snapple is outsider, quirky, irreverent, and the ads appear low budget, mid to lower class settings (wood paneling in every home) and the ads are designed to appear amateurish. It is as though their very being is small time and small town (I was surprised to learn they originated in NY city!) so perhaps that makes them more marginal than small town.
Acquisition fever is not always good for the acquired company or the one acquiring or even for the economy in general. Snapple had a maverick vibe that would never carry its brand equity into the Quaker stable. Quaker and Snapple went together about as well as Hippies and Quakers would. They do not speak the same language or see the world in the same way. The spectacular loss of financial value under the Quaker management must surely tell the tale. I do not believe that it could have made a success of Snapple unless it somehow distanced the parent company from the Snapple subsidiary and conducted business in an entirely different manner. Cadbury, with its less defined corporate image is not in as great a danger for loss of financial value but it too is a dubious fit. After watching its ads, though, it is much less straight laced and it at least has the advantage of being a candy company which is much more in line with the true nutritional value of Snapple. I think that they should spin off Snapple as soon as the market place allows them an opening.

3. How effective and appropriate do you think Triarc’s marketing program was? How effective and appropriate do you think Cadbury’s marketing program is? What changes if any, would you recommend Cadbury make to the Snapple marketing?
I believe that the sale price indicates that Triarc was very successful but I am not sure that it can be sustained long term. Its packaging was greatly improved, its focus on what Snapple really was improved dramatically and it helped to restore the sense of fun and premium. Triarc lead Snapple into a dicey advertising direction toward the end though. I am not sure that once you go there you can come back. To make a parallel, once daytime soaps venture onto the path of marginalized sex and the occult, the soap has not got long to live. It appears to be a desperate attempt to gain ratings. In Snapple’s case, they tried to regain their edge by the ‘Fruit ads’. They are actually fairly well done and of much higher production quality than previous Snapple ads but they seem to be aimed at a different demographic. I will be direct in my opinion: I believe that they tried to regain their edgy feeling by adopting an old name for homosexuals and positioning themselves as accepting and open minded. The little fruits also bring to mind the underwear commercials and the controversies surrounding them. They won a best ad but I think those awards are often given for social change and brave stances.

Cadbury has taken the little fruits ads into more blatant sexuality and more edgy events. I think that they missed the fun and tipped over onto edgy which I do not think can be sustained long term with this product. This is not Red Bull nor should it be. I think there is something fundamentally inauthentic in this approach for this product.

If I were in charge, I would back away from the sexual edginess and I think I would find the kind of stunts like some of the JackAss ones, that are extreme but harmless and funny or a comedian that was not too high brow but who thought with new perspectives on things that affect this demographic..

IN addition, I think that Cadbury should spin off Snapple into an independent unit asap.
4. How has Snapple’s sale to Cadbury affected Snapple’s equity? Are there dangers of the brand’s association with a large corporation?
The sale proved that Snapple was back and that it had brand equity again. The bargain basement price to Triarc was an awakening. Triarc did an amazing short term job of bringing it back to sell again but that is what they specialize in and they needed the value to peak to realize that kind of profit. It is now incumbent upon Cadbury to keep it going. And that is not as easy when you have to use long term strategies. This brand should never be associated with a large corporation. It is not the way this type of business needs to run and it almost kills the equity by taking something edgy and placing it in the nest with other “nice” products like Dairy Milk chocolate bars. This is a serious danger to the product line and brand equity. It is somehow hypocritical and consumers sense that the edgy stance is marketing hype only. Wendy the Snapple lady had the appearance of authenticity because she was initially truly authentic.

5. What do you think Cadbury’s next move with Snapple should be? Should Cadbury spin-off its Americas Beverage group?
Sell! Sell! Sell! Or make the Snapple business unit independent and run it as Red Bull is run with its own personality. Spinning off the Americas Beverage group would be the most sensible course of action for the unit. Without the freedom to distance itself from big business, I do not see this unit surviving or thriving long term.

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