With this move, the company aims to become a category leader while also creating a platform for new product launches.
“One of the things we saw when we looked at ourselves in terms of branding is consumers would say that we have great products, but our branding was disjointed and confusing," In Zone chief marketing and commercial officer Carl Sweat told FoodNavigator-USA.
“At the start, the founder’s vision was to use fun packaging that we know kids love to deliver healthy beverages. We’ve really redefined that mission now to get one brand to focus our resources on, that moms can feel good about and that we can use to communicate clearly about the healthy aspects of our products. We think it will appeal to a much larger group of consumers.”
In Zone—whose 100% juice products are distributed throughout several national supermarket, convenience store, mass merchant and drug store chains—will launch its rebranded products in March 2014.
Concurrent with the rollout of the new brand, In Zone will launch two new blends—strawberry kiwi and tropical fruit medley—formulated with all natural apple, carrot and beet juice, along with strawberry, pineapple, kiwi and mango. The juices provide the nutrition of one combined full serving of fruits and vegetables with 25% less sugar than a fruit juice-only product.
The 12-year-old company, which has experienced double-digit growth over the past four years, expects the rebranding to jumpstart “upper double-digit growth” in 2014 on the heels of positive response early on from retailers.
Potential in healthy kids' beverages untapped
About half of the roughly $8 billion children’s beverage market is made up of milk, with juice and juice drinks accounting for a further $2 to $2.5 billion (which is where In Zone’s all-natural juice products fall); but after that, it’s very fragmented, which is further complicated by the fact that beverages within each category are “not just targeted to kids,” Sweat said.
Despite that beverages marketed with kids in mind has been steadily growing over the past seven-odd years, and fruit and vegetable juice blends showing significant potential as consumers seek better nutrition, fewer calories and less sugar in juice options for kids, this hasn’t been reflected in the products offered by many leading brands.
“I think by default the brands that have significant share exclusivity to kid beverages would be Kraft, with its Capri Sun line, and Minute Maid out of Coca-Cola,” he said. “What we found interesting is we’ve been very clear about wanting to lead in healthy children beverages since the beginning, but we wouldn’t say that about what the leaders are putting out.”
Moms and kids have a vote
Not only that, but Sweat notes that through proprietary consumer research and focus groups, In Zone has found that taste is still a hurdle in the healthful kids juice segment.
“We’ve done a lot of research to gauge consumer response. One of the things we heard in that category was most of them just don’t taste good," Sweat noted. "Campbell’s, which makes V-8 fruit and vegetable juices, starts with tomato or sweet potato—they don’t start with things that make it easy to formulate a great tasting beverage. Apple & Eve, which is going for extreme lower caloric versions, has kids telling their moms they don’t taste good.
"Our mantra is both moms and kids have a vote. We know kids are attracted to our packaging and the collectible tops, but if they don’t like the taste, you can’t get them to drink it. Taste comes first, but it has to share the pedestal with healthy.”