Innocent bids to regain 'entrepreneurial' spirit of '99
Innocent is to intensify its focus on direct to customer marketing such as social media and experiential as it looks to overcome the “challenge” of growing the business, while keeping a close relationship with consumers.
The company will dial up its use of “grass roots” marketing channels as it looks to remind consumers of its entrepreneurial foundations.
Innocent retains operational control over the brand despite Coca-Cola’s majority stake. However, the soft drink giant’s investment has provided the brand with additional marketing funds. The size of its business is expected to grow by more than 25 per cent this year, in terms of revenue, while penetration levels are tipped to be about 30 per cent. Sales of the Innocent smoothie brand hit £115m in 2011, up 7.7% year on year, according to Britvic’s soft drink report.
Douglas Lamont, Innocent’s marketing director, told Marketing Week: “I want people to think about Innocent in the same way consumers did when they discovered us in 1999. Our challenge as we become more of a mainstream household brand is how we continue to be unique and engage more people in conversation with us.
“We’re in a strong place but as we gain size and gain people we need to think of new ways to engage them. There’s no one campaign that will do this, it’s about layers of different types of activity.”
Innocent’s creative team is acting like an “editorial newsroom” as the brand looks to keep people engaged with new content on social media and its own blog and website. The company is also set to expand its festival presence. Its sponsorship of the Olympics through parent company Coca-Cola has “opened up [its] eyes” in terms of what can be achieved in terms of visibility at large events, Lamont says.
In addition, Innocent’s co-founder Richard Reed is fronting a new BBC3 reality series that will see him invest £1m in a start up company, which Lamont says will serve to reinforce the “realness” of the brand and its entrepreneurial values.
The brand’s creative tone of voice is unlikely to change dramatically in spite of speaking to new audiences and a raft of other brands, such as Sky’s Now TV and Vita Coco, recently saying they are looking to emulate Innocent’s marketing success, Lamont says.
He adds: “The fact that people say they want to have a tone of voice like Innocent tells me we are still doing something right. They’re not saying ‘we want to sound like Innocent used to be’, we are seen as a benchmark and we don’t want to be knocked off course because other people are copying us.”
While Innocent will place a renewed focus on direct marketing channels this year, it will also up its above the line marketing spend, particularly as it looks to grow the juices business it launched in 2011 across Europe to become as successful as its smoothie arm, which is the market leader across the territory.
“Over time we will be known as Innocent [not just Innocent Smoothies], which does a range of juices, smoothies, veg pots and whatever else we decide to do. Our mid-term goal is to be Europe’s favourite little food and drink company; it feels like that’s within our grasp,” Lamont says.
- 1998 Innocent founded by university friends Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright.
- 2005 Innocent creates kids smoothies.
- 2007 Innocent rebrands Juicy Water as This Water.
- 2008 Innocent expands into food with Veg Pots range.
- 2009 Coca-Cola takes small stake in Innocent, which in 2011 is increased to 58 per cent.
- 2010 Innocent launches juice range.
- 2011 Innocent announces it will become the official juice and smoothie partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games
- January 2012 Douglas Lamont, formerly Innocent’s innovation director, replaces Thomas Delabriere as marketing director