Another story that broke before we could get to it ahead of our summer siesta. One truly worth the wait, as it provides insight into not one, not two, but three marketing issues of the day.
Remember those cool Evian “Roller Babies” from 2009? A video that went “viral,” generating 80 gigatrillions views, shares, likes, or whatever? Evian’s paltry share of the U.S. bottled water market has fallen even lower than it was then.
And it keeps getting worse. Per Beverage Digest, Evian's sales in 2012 rose a scant 0.4%, while competitor Smartwater grew nearly 20%. Even the Fiji brand managed 4% growth. Beverage Digest estimates that Evian’s market share is now just 0.3%. You can’t roll much closer to a 100% negative campaign ROI than that! [Note: IRI’s estimate for the smaller “premium” subcategory shows Evian with 12% share.]
Issue of the day / moral #1 = Being popular isn’t anywhere near enough to run a successful business.
Interestingly, while we were doing some research for this post, we came across this little case study on the site of agency Havas Worldwide, in the “Our Work” section:
“Evian was losing market share…Focusing on its authenticity was not working [emphasis ours]…’Roller Babies’ became a global blockbuster…The popularity of the advertising translated into increased sales of 7% and market share up 13%.”
Wait, what? How could market share go up 13% when it fell from 1.2% to 0.3%? Havas’s data is, of course, not sourced (no pun intended).
Issue of the day / moral #2 = Authenticity remains as the biggest canard in marketing (as we told you way back in the day here).
While we’re at it here is bonus moral #2A = Babies are only good at selling baby stuff. If you want to sell adult stuff, use adults. Just ask the folks at ETrade about that.
Finally, we come to mid-2013, when Evian announced a packaging change. This is a common occurrence in consumer goods, usually invoked when everything else isn’t working.
Heineken modified its bottle shape earlier this year. “A brand new bottle filled with exactly the same beer,” one print ad cried. Coors has done similar, with its vintage “stubby” bottle. The NYC subway ads for Coors tell us not to worry…it’s the same beer as always. Both programs seem a bit defensive to us.
Evian’s new bottle copies the popular cylinder shape of more upscale waters (see VOSS, for example). The new label tarts up the authenticity claims – a la, don’t worry, new bottle, same water – with a new call out “From the French Alps,” sexier Alps imagery, and a more exacting description of the water’s source. Authenticity – the stuff Havas said was not working.
Evian even goes so far as to change the product description on the label from “natural mineral water” to “natural spring water.” Authentic whatever you call it, we suppose.
Issue of the day / moral #3 = Packaging changes that don’t highlight what’s authentically new don’t move the needle very much, and certainly not for very long.
The new General Manager of the Evian business wants to triple U.S. sales in the next five years. Babies, “new” bottles, and “new” labels won’t be enough. This one cries out for some adult involvement.