Food & Beverage Perspectives
10 18

Suja Strikes Marketing Gold With Black Charcoal Beverage

<p>September&#8217;s &#8220;social listening campaign" for new activated charcoal beverage Midnight Tonic tapped into organic fans of Suja to reap big rewards for the brand and its enthusiasts.</p>

Ranked the No. 13 fastest-growing company in America—and the No. 1 food and beverage company—on the Inc. 5000 2016 Fastest Growing Companies list, Suja has plenty to celebrate. Boasting US$65.8 million in revenue and a 3-year growth rate of 10,511 percent, the San Diego-based purveyor of organic, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), cold-pressed juice beverages has come a long way since its 2012 inception.

The premium beverage behemoth further solidified its success with a novel “social listening campaign" centered around the launch of limited edition Midnight Tonic.

As part of a Surprise + Delight initiative, the company mailed pre-release samples of the new product in a box branded #itsthejuice to a variety of die-hard Suja fans, from notable nutrition bloggers to organic brand-fans identified via their social media posts. The latter included celebrities with an impressive online following, such as Jesse McCartney and Eva Longoria, who contributed to the ensuing social media frenzy across platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

Stevia-sweetened and featuring activated charcoal, ginger, schizandra berry and lemon, the pitch-black drink added to the mystery by shrouding the label information on the bottle (visible once the product was consumed).

The official drink release was Sept. 9, with a run of 1,000 16-ounce bottles only available via the Suja website. Each customer was required (and restricted) to purchase six bottles at $5.99 a pop, sans shipping. The product quickly sold out.

According to Adweek, less than two weeks after launch, the campaign generated 13 million social impressions, with several million more anticipated. To help continue the momentum, Suja advised fans to sign up for its newsletter and keep an eye on its social media for product availability updates. Lo and behold, a Sept. 23 Suja tweet revealed another 1,000 bottles would be available online, which also sold out.

The future plans for Midnight Tonic are as mysterious as the beverage itself. In the meantime, a few clear marketing lessons any company can take away include:

• Play into people’s “fear of missing out" (FOMO)

By creating a limited-edition product—while also controlling the availability and distribution—Suja fostered FOMO that ensured quick sell-outs.

• Don’t let budget stop you

The Suja campaign didn’t rely on a big-dollar agency or take out expensive ad space. Any company can create a buzz with the right product and idea.

• Maximize social media

Many social media campaigns can feel forced, which only alienates potential brand fans. People will engage naturally in social media if a campaign truly impacts them.

• Draw upon your existing fan base

Knowing who your loyal customers are—and surprising/rewarding them—can offer a much easier road to customer conversion for a new product than trying to win consumers unfamiliar with or uninterested in your offerings.

• Keep up the momentum

The ball is in Suja’s court, but not for long. Without a reason to stay engaged, consumers may quickly move on to the next big thing. The challenge for Suja (and all brands) is to figure out the right mix of staying unpredictable—yet giving fans enough incentive to keep the lines of communication open.

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