Have you tried La Croix yet? The flavored, sparkling water is taking the market by storm. What started as a Midwest novelty now is a favorite across the country, especially since 2015. La Croix is noticeable as an alternative to surgery soft drinks.
However, as fascinating and relevant as La Croix’s strategy is right now, they weren’t the first to market themselves this way. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, 7UP ran a huge campaign distinguishing themselves from Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and any other colored soda. The similarities between the two drink companies illuminate the power of positioning in marketing.
Let’s start with 7UP. Until the late 60’s 7UP’s tagline was “You Like It… It Likes You!” As you can imagine, this phrase didn’t capture a younger audience. The slogan felt like it was advertising a calm, less gassy stomach – not exactly sexy. It alienated a demographic who didn’t care as much about their stomach as they did about looking cool.
However, the idea wasn’t wrong. The presentation was. 7UP did appear healthier than other colas because of its clear appearance. Beginning in 1969, 7UP bought into the Hippie Movement and began marketing themselves as the “UnCola.”
The imagery was fun, a little crazy, and definitely aimed at a younger audience. 7UP was saying, we’re different, and we know it and celebrate it. The drink itself is clear which only added to the consumers understanding that this wasn’t your typical soft drink. Even if it wasn’t healthier, it looked like it because it just looked like water. Check out the difference between these two ads, one from the 1950’s the other from 1970.
So what happened to 7UP? The brand is pretty much irrelevant now. At the height of their UnCola campaign, they were the third most popular drink in the United States. Now they occupy barely 1% of the market. There were two factors in their crash: Sprite and diet drinks. 7UP maintained popularity for many years even with Sprite as a competitor.
However, attitudes changed and marketing with hippy symbolism wasn’t attracting a young audience anymore. Sprite ran a campaign based around the slogan, “I Like the Sprite in You,” celebrating individualism and 80’s freedom. And, of course, the drink was clear like 7UP. Diet drinks also helped take down 7UP. What’s healthier than a clear soda? A sugar-free soda- basically a new take on the same consumer attitude. With an outdated marketing strategy and new opponents, 7UP just couldn’t compete.
So diet soft drinks and Sprite ruled the “healthy” soda market for years. Of course, other health kicks compete against the soda giants, but for the most part, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi are as popular as ever. La Croix is the most recent competitor to the soda business, and so far they’re disrupting the whole scene.
From Wisconsin to World
La Croix operates on the same position as 7UP, as an “UnCola.” Vox calls it the “methadone to soft drinks.” Their timing is perfect – soda consumption in the United States has consistently gone down over the last 10 years.
*As a side note – one traditional soda is up in sales. Any guesses?Sprite. It seems that while 7UP was unable to keep their brand going, the idea of a clear soda is still popular.
Truthfully, La Croix has done very little in terms of marketing. Most of their growth is organic. Paleo Groups, writers in LA, and bloggers picked up on the sensation. The result was an incredible amount of content being published about the drink. La Croix kept up with the exposure with a compelling social media presence.
Another important note in La Croix’s success is their position against soda. Although it’s a sparkling water, the drink competes against sodas instead of other sparkling waters. La Croix has the same feel as drinking a soda. It comes in a can, is carbonated, and has a little flavor. You can buy it in a 12 pack, much like Coke or Pepsi. For a soda addict, the drink has the same sort of rush.
Vanessa Walker, the former VP of Sales and Marketing toldLinkedInin an interview, “I never saw our competition as other imported sparkling brands. Instead, I decided to position the brand against diet soda.” What Walker knew is the power diet drinks had in the market. By positioning the brand against diet soda, she knew they would interrupt the market just like diet had interrupted 7UP.
But of course, the drink isn’t just popular with quitting soda fanatics. La Croix is a lifestyle brand for millennials and health-conscious consumers, but it also has a strange cult following. Because of its retro branding and the perception that it’s owned by a small company (it’s not – La Croix is a part of the National Beverage Corp), people associate with it as a fringe item, cool within certain groups.
For now, La Croix is on top of their game. Unlike 7UP, they have a loyal following and 10-year trend of decreasing soda sales to help out. Whether La Croix is popular for another year or another decade, their strategy shows the importance of positioning against a specific market. 7UP did it almost 50 years ago and had a decade of success. Only time will tell how long La Croix will stay popular. It doesn’t even look like they’ve reached their peak yet. In the meantime, say no to the Pepsi and Sprite and try a La Croix.
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About the Author: Miles Farnsworth
Miles is the head content writer at JJUMPP. He enjoys writing (duh), hiking, and thrift shopping.
Dr Pepper / Seven Up, Inc GSM 5200: MARKETING MANAGEMENT
The market targeting and product positioning require lots of attention for advertising and promotion plan development, thus, do:a.) Squirt really has to reinforce their marketing strategy to be able to sustain their existingreputation of the product and gaining profit? or b.) Following the strategy planning recommended by Food, Cone & Belding to produce acompetitive soft carbonated drink in the market with comparison towards Coca-Cola brand and Pepsi-Cola brand? or c.) Completely develop another market targeting and positioning strategy which may or maynot include the elements of the currents and recommended strategy that able to secure areputable and profitable Squirt brand in near future?
The owner of Squirt company plan to spend their budget wisely, thus, the amount of budgetshould be allocated correspond toa.) Running bilingual media advertising and bottler promotion campaign for U.S Hispanicnationalities? or b.) Food, Cone & Belding estimation of Hispanic Squirt consumption on a Spanish-only program for selected markets? or c.) Taking risky moves by expending their Squirt soft carbonated drink market across other countries, however with a limited budget spend on it?
4.0CASE ANALYSIS4.1Target Market and Positioning
Food, Cone, & Belding recommended, and brand management agreed, that Squirt’s uniquethirst-quenching attribute should be dominant positioning dimension upon which to build the brand.Squirt was targeted at adults, 18-44 years old. Squirt is currently positioned as a, "spunky, lively,everyday, on the go, sociable, colourful, and music driven" beverage. The current tag line is, "Squirtyour thirst." The position has been revisited in 1999 and 2000, however no changes were made.Food, Cone & Belding made a full review of positioning strategy and made a few recommendationsin mid 2001. They concluded that Squirt was more thirst quenching than refreshing, and that, it was3