As predicted, Diet Pepsi's Skinny Can was sure to create a controversy and backlash with the rollout of their "Skinny Can", the brand positioning was not on the features and benefits of Diet Pepsi. Features and Benefits of a product are necessary to articulate to the get trial and repeat purchase. The problem with Features and Benefits is this: they can easily be copied. Think about a diet beverage Features: no sugar, zero calories, etc. The Benefits are satisfaction of thirst without calories, helps you lose or maintain weight, etc. Every diet beverage has these features and benefits and the consumer can easily switch between brands.
Pepsico decided to reinvigorate Diet Pepsi in a different way. Ad Age reported that Diet Pepsi spent only $500,000 on measured media in the past three years combined. "Diet Pepsi spent $63 million on measured media in 2006, less than half that in 2007 and just a half-million dollars since then."
According to Pesico the brand has had steady sales. We have all heard and read the negatives related to diet beverages, most recently how diet soda is linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attacks. Reinforcing the move away from tangible aspects of selling Diet Peps, Ami Irazabal, marketing director at Pepsi was quoted in Ad Week; "We are going to actually start talking to our consumer again. ... We have our loyal followers that are a specific psychographic, and we want to make sure we talk to them on a one-to-one level."
That mention of Psychographic is important. Psychographic variables define personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. These are more telling of a consumer's beliefs and aspirations as opposed to demographic variables such as age, income, family size, etc. Pepsico took the leap in a rollout of the Skinny Can
with the obvious appeal to Fashion-Forward customers and the not-so-subtle message that the can represents the belief that thinner-is-better. However a quick search on Google for Diet Pepsi Skinny reveals the idea is offensive to many of it's target market... women.
The Pepsi You Tube channel has a short video of Sofía Vergara, a model and actress, who will be in a new Diet Pepsi Skinny Can commercial in March. She currently stars on the critically acclaimed ABC sitcom Modern Family as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett. Pepsico created a behind the scenes video Get the Skinny with Diet Pepsi: Sofia Vergara , of her new ad shoot for Diet Pepsi Skinny Can. Sofia Vergara talks about why she wanted to join Pepsi for the iconic campaign. Vergara's career began with Pepsi when she appeared in a Latin American Pepsi commercial 20 years ago. She talks about the retro feeling of the can, it's super sleek look, super fashion, and the customer will look fantastic if you carry it in your bag and take it for a sip. She likened it to having your Blackberry in your hand.
Pepsi is the new Blackberry! Pepsi is now a fashion statement! Brilliant marketing strategy to create a differentiated product. Of course any strong positioning will have negative consequences and Pepsi is enduring this as we speak. Let's see how this plays out in the next 90 days.
So, Tips on Starting a Specialty Food Business. Features and Benefits are important to communicate to the potential customer. Aspirations and Beliefs are what differentiate a product to create customer Loyalty and Preference. The consumer purchase decision process is "Thinking, Feeling, Doing". Isn't it more compelling to appeal to the "feeling" aspect to get the consumer to "doing"? If the big guys are moving in this direction, shouldn't food entrepreneurs take a lesson from the Diet Pepsi Skinny Can launch? I think so.
All the best!