Learning from the innocent experience

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A summary by XPotential of the key actions and learnings from innocent, based on "Building a Brand from Nothing but Fruit" by John Simmons.

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  • To see the internationally popular 'Building Brands in Turbulent Times' presenation, given by XPotential founder, Steve, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDIAGoBl53M
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Learning from the innocent experience

  1. 1. Learning from innocent
  2. 2. Learning from the innocent experience Katie Mason July 2010
  3. 3. Why we’re writing this……. innocent has become a household name in the UK thanks to its delicious, healthy and “nothing but nothing but” fruit smoothies, as well as its friendly communications and positive, ethical relationship with consumers In 2008, A Great Brand Stories book was released by John Simmons on the topic of innocent. “innocent Smoothies – Building a Brand from Nothing but Fruit” The key actions and learnings from this book are to be summarised in this presentation To learn a bit more about innocent and understand why their strategy have earned them success as a brand, to help others to learn and apply some of the principles to their brands ©XPotential 2010
  4. 4. The innocent story Founded in the UK in 1999 by 3 University friends: Jon Wright, Adam Balon and Richard Reed Primary business is producing smoothies and flavoured spring water, sold in supermarkets, coffee shops and various other outlets nationally as well as in Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium and Denmark. innocent has a 77.5% share of the £169m UK smoothie market and the company sells two million smoothies per week. Although PJ Smoothies are accredited with creating the UK smoothie market, the drinks’ popularity really took of with the rise of innocent. In 1999, just before innocent took off, the UK smoothie market was worth just £400,000 a year. One of innocent’s trademark features is the funny, chatty and personal tone of their product labels, advertising and direct to consumer communications http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7986901.stm ©XPotential 2010
  5. 5. Later life in innocent Since the release of “Building a Brand from Nothing but Fruit: innocent Launched “veg pots” (2008) and pure fruit “squeezies” for kids’ lunchboxes (2009). Both made with pure healthy ingredients and no additives, keeping with the innocent values April 2009 a minority stake was sold to Coca-Cola to raise funds for expansion in Europe, a goal which innocent are progressing towards with sales in France, Germany, Netherlands and more. innocent say that nothing about what they do, their values or promises will change, with Coca-Cola keeping a “hands-off” approach In April 2010, Coke’s share increased to 58%. They remain a passive investor, with innocent using their expertise to distribute drinks in new markets such as Sweden. innocent’s association with Coke has caused it some bad press and a lot of upset brand-supporters ©XPotential 2010
  6. 6. and more recently…….. UK smoothie sales were hit badly by the recession, continuing to drop 27% last year (2009) innocent had sales of £94.3m in 2009 (19.2% decrease y-o-y) “There has obviously been a downturn in economic activities in the last two years and in particular 2008, where we did have a slight drop in sales in that year and our accounts reflect that. But since mid or late 2008 we’ve had increasing sales, obviously from a lower base, but smoothies sales have been going really well,” said Jess Coles, Head of Finance. ©XPotential 2010
  7. 7. The innocent rules of the game Five values of innocent: These are kept in mind at every decision in order to maintain innocent’s overall goal of “Creating a Business we can be proud of” 1) Be natural Keep produce 100% natural and healthy, and treat other people fairly too 2) Be entrepreneurial Staying true to innocent’s roots, chasing every opportunity 3) Be generous With charity, with feedback and time spent coaching, with rewards 4) Be commercial Think clearly, act decisively and keep the main thing the main thing in order to create growth and profit for the business 5) Be responsible Stick to the company’s promises and do what’s right, think about the consequences of actions and try to leave things better than you found them ©XPotential 2010
  8. 8. What we can learn…… Make friends with the people you want to sell to Things innocent did What they can teach us On time and in tune!: Launched at a time when consumers were health aware (popularity of organic produce, Jamie’s School dinners on TV…) Be in tune (on message and in time) with consumer trends and respond to them Have a laugh: Communications are relaxed, colloquial, to-the-point and funny (based on the natural way in which the founders communicate with friends and each other) Humanise the brand with a tone of voice/verbal identity. Writing with 1 person in mind helps to avoid impersonal corporate-style tone Importance of humour – humour makes people feel good. When used in communications, it creates associations of positive feelings with the brand, and in innocent, humour is not a tool in campaigns, it is an integral component of the brand Have a chat: Find a market/speak to and involve consumers (prototype smoothies were sold from a stall with a sign “should we quit our jobs and make smoothies?”, with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ bins. The ‘yes’ bin was full) Brand built on trust and a friendship with consumers Be open to consumer contact, invite it and respond on a personal level Two way element of communications (‘with’ consumers, not ‘to’) creates a more endearing, welcoming and less corporate image of the brand Cutting out the red tape: Manoeuvrability- new product can be on shelf in 6 weeks. No excessive focus groups needed because contact with consumers is constant. innocent has been described as a ‘real’ business, not a ‘processed’ business The openness with consumers allows innocent to respond rapidly to small trend changes with retail refresh, promotions etc. ©XPotential 2010
  9. 9. “Have a laugh” – label examples ©XPotential 2010
  10. 10. “Have a laugh” – label examples ©XPotential 2010
  11. 11. What we can learn…… Making Friends with the people you work with Things innocent did What they can teach us Make work a nice place to be: Relaxed and dynamic workplace People not seated by department Generous: Lord of the Sash (awarded monthly, gets tea made for them for the month), nature trip, life scholarship (to fulfil life ambitions) Invest in people, keep a cohesive team mentality and make work fun to improve motivation and how much employees care about the business Make the most of your friends’ popularity: Teamed up with Penguin classics for a reading area at Fruitstock  trusted, established brand, win-win partnership with innocent Partner with other brands to make up for lacking features, e.g. being established/treasured Be nice to the people who sell your products: Friendly and flexible with retailers about exclusive lines and special offers Build good relationships with retailers by being friendly and considerate, focus on win-win solutions ©XPotential 2010
  12. 12. What we can learn…… Know who you are and what you want and stay true to it Things innocent did What they can teach us Living by values: Chose to define brand values (e.g. fresh, all natural) and stick to them Brand and product at innocent cannot be separated, branding was not an after-thought, this improves the consumer’s belief and trust in the brand, as well as employees commitment to it Remember who you are: “Is that innocent?” – a question asked at any business direction decision (see 5 values) innocent’s Free Fruitstock festival (music, food, drink, farmers market…) got too big and too much about music so replaced by village fete (with priced tickets to limit numbers), better fit with brand (slower paced and more family friendly linking to their kids’ lunch box products) Find trusted people to overcome cultural differences in expansion but stick to same fundamentals everywhere so as not to lose credibility – i.e. quality, healthy, ethical Stay true to the brand’s identity, do not risk diluting it or losing credibility ©XPotential 2010 Caring about families is a brand value that resonates with the public.
  13. 13. What we can learn…… Know who you are and what you want and stay true to it Things innocent did What they can teach us Do nice things: Short ‘enjoy by’ dates so as not to impair taste (a priority feature of products) Work with Rainforest Alliance for moderation and credibility 10% profits go to innocent foundation Be responsible “A brand is what it does, not what it says it is” Be true to what you claim and honest about what you are in communications Eyes on the prize: Did not take starbucks offer to sell in USA – did not fit with goal to become “Europe’s favourite drinks company” Expanded to This Water and kids lunchbox smoothies Started selling in McDonalds, lead to blog outrage but innocent did what they thought was right – helping an unhealthy food chain who seek to sell healthy drinks Focus on your defined goals and decision factors (e.g. 5 principles of innocent), then even when consumers are upset with brand decisions, there is solid support for making those choices that doesn’t contradict with the principles that consumers have embraced before. Innocent had faith that people would pay: in order to ensure fresh fruit smoothies without additives and preservatives, they would have to come at a premium price, but innocent knew that their market would pay for the quality Understand the true value of your brand and if your brand stands for quality over cheapness, do not compromise that. ©XPotential 2010
  14. 14. So what………? Define your brand and your values and always remain true to them in order to win trust and credibility in the eyes of consumers and customers Stay focused on your goals and values so you don’t get diverted or diluted Involve consumers in your brand, be personable and happy to talk to them Have a consistent vocal identity to help people feel as though they know you as a brand Use humour to create affinity and positivity around the brand ©XPotential 2010
  15. 15. Post script! the getting-in-touch test Whilst making notes on the unique verbal identity of innocent and the failure of other brands to copy it, I wrote “attempts at imitation have been fruitless” and saw it as an opportunity to e-mail innocent and see whether they really were happy to engage in contact with consumers. I got the following response within a day: ©XPotential 2010
  16. 16. Post script! An update as of May 2011 innocent have been named the 7th most influential brand in the UK innocent recently voted 7th most socially responsible brand in the world innocent has the 9th biggest Twitter following out of brands in the UK ©XPotential 2010
  17. 17. So who’s XPotential? XPotential is a brand focused strategy consultancy that helps to align individuals, functions and organisations throughout the world to create and deliver Brand Value. We work with some of the world’s biggest brands to deliver outstanding results. We orientate individuals and teams in the organisations to focus their responsibilities to deliver value to their most important asset - their brand. We are proud to have worked with over 30 companies in over 50 countries and touched tens of thousands of individuals, delivering some of their most impressive business results. We do this through working closely with the leadership of organisations to develop Brand Centric Vision and Strategy through a deep understand of the challenges and opportunities for the Brands and the Company, the Brand Vision and the key audience for change. We then design and implement a programme of brand centric change including communication, engagement, training and follow up. We have worked both cross functionally and also through specific areas including sales, supply chain, innovation, marketing, R&D, finance and HR. ©XPotential 2010
  18. 18. “We align individuals, functions and organisations, throughout the world, to create and deliver brand equity” Take a look at our website to find out more about us: www.xpotential.co.uk ©XPotential 2014 18

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