When people commit to a healthier lifestyle, soft drinks tend to be one of the first things that they eliminate from their diet. Needless to say, this does not bode well for soft drink companies. According to Business Insider, “Coke and Pepsi brands declined 2% and 4.5%, respectively, by volume in the US in 2017.” And at the same time, restaurants, whether due to a health-conscious platform or legislation, are increasingly displaying health information on menus, also contributing to a reduction in sales.
So, with all this bad press, what’s a soft drink brand to do? The truth is that there are ways to enjoy soft drinks differently than pop-culture dictates, and many of these brands have products or values that speak to the health-conscious consumer. The only problem is finding the best way to not only get their attention but get through bias and assumption. No one ever said changing minds is easy.
Here’s the thing: all the data shows that experiential is one of the single best ways to make a real and measurable impact on consumers. Not only can a brand event help companies reach consumers on a human level, they are more likely to internalize messaging and spread the word to their social networks, both online and in-person.
Soft drink brands should consider the following experiential marketing concepts to leverage marketing impact and redefine how consumers view their products – and brand identity.
Channel the Napa experience and hold a soda tasting
Not all soft drinks, sugar and other treats are inherently bad – they’re just treats. By helping consumers rethink the way that they consume your product, you can also rework the way they view your brand. By consuming a favorite soft drink in smaller quantities, consumers can reach their health goals and you can reach your distribution goals.
Soft drink companies are already producing smaller can options to let consumers enjoy soft drinks without the temptation to overindulge. The best part is that these cans also help companies increase their bottom line; people have demonstrated that they are willing to pay more for less and purchase at a higher price per ounce for smaller portions of full-calorie soft drinks.
In transforming “tiny drink trends” to experiential marketing concepts, consider a wine-style soda tasting, complete with a bar top, snacks, and a “soda sommelier.” This type of scalable activation (think lifestyle event, in-store, sky’s the limit) will appeal to grown-ups as well as kids, who will be eager to find a bar they are also encouraged to belly up to. For those brands that take a natural approach, use these interactions as an opportunity to showcase product benefits, such as natural sugar or other better-for-you ingredients.
Incorporate a healthy cause into a brand experience
Another way for soft drink brands to revamp their reputation and appeal to healthy consumers is to engage in meaningful social responsibility partnerships that focus on wellness. From fighting childhood obesity to aiding in eliminating “food deserts,” designing experiential campaigns that benefit a healthy cause is great for driving consumer engagement and sales. For the past several years, Coca-Cola has supported several health-oriented causes, from fighting obesity to its Troops for Fitness program.
There are dozens of experiential marketing concepts that can incorporate a cause and amplify your brand’s commitment to making the world a better place. Brands like Corona erected art installations featuring sculptures made out of plastic waste to demonstrate its commitment to clean beaches. Chobani created a digital fruit tree at Grand Central Terminal in support of No Kid Hungry. Whatever you do, by aligning with a healthy cause, consumers will see your brand as more than a sugary drink. A cause-driven activation can also kick-start a brand relationship, making consumers more likely to respond to your marketing messages in the future.
Put your brand front-and-center in the workplace
One of the strengths of experiential is its ability to engage consumers where they live, work, and play. However, often that second point goes under-utilized. Considering that the average person will spend 90,360 hours at work throughout their lifetime, workplace marketing can be a lucrative place to engage with potential customers. Not only are they a captive audience, but for CPG brands, snacks and beverages are a natural mechanism for break time.
For soft drink companies, the workplace is a great spot for product sampling. It can be used as an opportunity to highlight no-calorie soft drink options, or even evangelize the idea of smaller portioned cans or bottles. Brands can even use the workplace to push cause marketing campaigns as well, further showing those who prioritize health that the brand shares their values.
Even as consumers shift their preferences toward more health-conscious beverage choices, soft drink companies can use experiential marketing concepts to remind consumers that their products and the brands themselves have value. Experiential humanizes brands. It gives soft drink companies the opportunity to prove to consumers that, whether they are giving them an indulgent moment in their day or a way to give back to the community, they are worth getting excited about.