sip on this

Coca-Cola Life Tiptoes Into UK, US, Amid Hopes for Mid-Calorie Sodas

Posted by Dale Buss on August 25, 2014 06:46 PM

Coca-Cola has reached a couple of significant milestones as it advances Coca-Cola Life, the new "mid-calorie" soft drink in the revolutionary green can: Life is now on sale in Great Britain, and Coke is rolling out a massive sampling campaign for its US introduction this fall.

Life just became available broadly in the UK last week in supermarkets across the country, touting one-third less sugar and one-third fewer calories than regular Coke. Sweetened with cane sugar and stevia, it represents the company's most serious effort yet to determine whether there's a big market for soft drinks that are neighter zero-calorie weight-management tools nor fully sweetened, unapologetic vessels of sugary, fizzy, high-calorie refreshment.

In the United States, Coke has begun stocking shelves of Fresh Market stores in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of Florida with Life. It plans to make Life available nationwide in October, Advertising Age reported, after Life was first marketed in Argentina.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Searches for a New Positive with More Menu Options

Posted by Dale Buss on August 20, 2014 04:41 PM

Everything seems to be sticking to McDonald's these days. There was the food-safety scandal in China last month, and now the chain's very ubiquity has hurt it as the local, franchisee-owned McDonald's at the epicenter of the racial strife in Ferguson, Mo., has become unwitting headquarters for much of the back-and-forth in the building drama there.

Maybe that particular problem for McDonald's will pass quickly, but the beleaguered chain is continuing to battle its long-term challenges, ranging from the junk-food image of its menus to flagging sales growth to still-growing competition.

At least McDonald's is trying some new tactics as CEO Don Thompson tries to pull the world's iconic fast-food chain out of its deepening slump, with moves involving digital leadership, new forms of influencing thought leaders, new menu items and new attempts to leverage the strengths that it does have.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

CVS Trades Cigarette Sales for Positive Social Standing

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 8, 2014 04:21 PM

Back in February, CVS Caremark took a major step—and a big risk— towards bringing its brand full circle when it announced that it would no longer sell tobacco products in its 7,700 stores.

The US' largest provider of prescription drugs, valued at $126 billion, says the removal process is 70 percent complete, with a goal to be tobacco-free by October. While the company stands to lose $2 billion in revenue a year, the move has helped it gain a positive position in the minds of consumers and the media. 

“We were willing to take that risk, to ensure a positive impact on the long-term health of our customers, clients and colleagues and to advance the dialogue on public health,” said Eileen Howard Boone, SVP Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy at CVS Caremark and President of CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, according to Forbes.

The decision caused a bit of a "CVS effect" among other CSR-centered brands that took action on other hot-button issues. Disney, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Intel, AT&T, and USPS pulled funding from the Boy Scouts of America due to their anti-gay policies; Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors who deny climate change that his company is going full steam ahead into sustainability; and Safeway and Kroger announced that they would stop selling GMO salmon.Continue reading...

sip on this

Critics Make a Dent in Coke's Can as Brand Steps Up Health Marketing

Posted by Dale Buss on July 31, 2014 04:04 PM

Things aren't going well for Coca-Cola these days. While the company still returned $47 billion in profits last year, that amount was down by more than $1 billion from 2012.

That may not seem like much of a problem, but as newly chronicled in places ranging from the cover of the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek to a prominent story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, minting profits—and sales—for Coca-Cola no longer is as simple as filling another bottle or can. The company and, especially, the brand are being hit with unprecedented resistance these days that is so stiff, some worry it ultimately could be existential for Coca-Cola.

Consumption of soda globally fell in the first quarter for the first time since 1999, though they rebounded in the second quarter; and the consumption slide continues in the US as the brand remains under assault from anti-obesity activists and politicians for its sugar and calorie content, while Diet Coke increasingly is suffering attrition as well because of concerns about aspartame. Meanwhile, new beverage startups in the flavored water and tea categories in which Coke has invested aren’t growing quickly enough to offset the continued losses in soda consumption.Continue reading...

tech style

At Wearable Tech Expo, Brands Acknowledge Hurdles to Adoption

Posted by Brittany Messenger on July 25, 2014 05:05 PM

As if there were any doubt, the Wearable Tech Expo this week in New York made one thing is certain: the branded wearable space is ready for take-off—but not before sorting out a few potential hurdles.  

In her keynote address at the conference, Myriam Joire, Pebble’s Chief Evangelist, identified battery life technology and usability challenges as two key issues the industry needs to solve.

"If you want to go beyond us, the early adopters, the tech savvy users, you have to solve usability challenges," Joire commented. "The people who buy a smartwatch at Target don't want to do anything complicated. They want it to add value to their lives. Notifications alone have value right now. A busy mom carrying groceries who gets a notification that she has a text message and doesn't have to pull her phone out—that's gold."

But is product innovation enough to grow the industry? While improvements to battery life and usability will allow wearables to serve their users better and longer, how will they get consumers to even give them a shot?Continue reading...

brand strategy

Still Struggling, Campbell's Hopes to Generate Buzz with 200 New Products

Posted by Dale Buss on July 22, 2014 04:12 PM

Campbell Soup already has tried just about everything in its efforts to jump-start growth in the last few years under CEO Denise Morrison. And now the packaged-goods giant says it's going to try more of just about everything in a bid to finally get over the stagnation hump—and supercharge revenues by 20 percent to become a $10 billion company within the next five years.

Morrison plans to reach that goal with a flurry of new products, greater leveraging of Campbell's recent acquisitions and the likelihood of more acquisitions ahead to counter the slow-growth "new normal" in the US packaged-goods industry and to pick up the company's uneven recent efforts to spur new organic growth.

She and other Campbell executives told an investor conference this week that, among other things, they plan a blitz of more than 200 new products in 2015 that will include protein bars and shakes to capitalize on the protein trend, the first organic varieties of Campbell Soup including flavors such as chicken tortilla and garden vegetable, and a new range of V8 flavors that seek to seize on the juicing trend with varieties such as Purple Power, a veggie blend with beets.Continue reading...

branding together

Big Tobacco Grows as Reynolds, Lorillard Merger Seeks New Industry Opportunities

Posted by Dale Buss on July 15, 2014 04:46 PM

Reynolds American and Lorillard are combining to make for a tougher competitior in a declining industry. But will the combination of the two tobacco giants be able to do more than that?

After a year of talks, Reynolds agreed to buy its smaller rival, Lorillard, for $27.4 billion, creating a company whose tobacco brands include classics such as Camel and Pall Mall as well as Natural American Spirit and Grizzly smokeless tobacco. Reynolds also has launched the Vuse e-cigarette.

But even in a business as crippled as selling cigarettes, the combining parties had to make some antitrust concessions. They sold a group of brands—including Cool, Salem and Winston cigarettes and Blu e-cigarettes—to another player, Imperial Tobacco, for $7 billion.Continue reading...

going mobile

Will Apple's iWatch Win with Fitness Freaks?

Posted by Caitlin Barrett on July 14, 2014 11:29 AM

With the release of Apple’s iWatch months away, there’s plenty to speculate about, from its operating system to its screen shape. But for those of us who care more about reps than specs, our iWatch anticipation is all about what the device might reveal about our physical state—and how to improve it.    

Apple, it seems, has started its iWatch tryouts with the fittest among us. Kobe Bryant has been spotted at Apple HQ, presumably trying out its ability to assess the wearer’s hydration, sweat, heart rate, and number of steps. Makes sense for a pro athlete: someone at the top of their game can use iWatch data to tweak their routine and programming to help them compete at an optimal level. 

But what will this mean for the rest of us? For starters, streamlining. There are a lot of wearables out there. A lot. And even more apps that use existing devices to assess everything from our sleep to our diet to our golf swing—something Apple’s already showcasing in its “Strength” spot. 

But for the iWatch to win with folks already using Fitbit or UP24 by Jawbone to track movement, sleep, and diet, it’s going to have to aggregate all of the data it collects on each wearer and turn it into something meaningful (not to mention helpful). Because data alone isn’t enough.Continue reading...

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