MINUTE MAID TAKES ON JUICE AISLE

HOUSTON -- Coca-Cola Foods is leveraging a "megabranding" strategy with extensive in-store marketing to gain aisle space for its Minute Maid Naturals line of shelf-stable juices.The new line of six juice flavors, packaged in 46-ounce and 64-ounce shelf-stable PET plastic jugs, is now being sold in supermarkets, and a national marketing rollout is planned for early March.The introduction will incorporate

HOUSTON -- Coca-Cola Foods is leveraging a "megabranding" strategy with extensive in-store marketing to gain aisle space for its Minute Maid Naturals line of shelf-stable juices.

The new line of six juice flavors, packaged in 46-ounce and 64-ounce shelf-stable PET plastic jugs, is now being sold in supermarkets, and a national marketing rollout is planned for early March.

The introduction will incorporate a nationwide sampling program, specially designed stackable display shippers, in-store couponing and a category management push by Coca-Cola Foods here, which is angling to become the key resource on many retailers' juice aisles, said Caryn Crump, director of grocery marketing.

Crump said the megabranding approach would position Minute Maid as the most likely category manager on the juice aisle, since its six flavors were chosen to "represent 80% of what's [already] sold on that aisle." The flavors include apple juice, concord medley, orange-grape medley, apple-cranberry medley, fruit medley and tropical medley.

By contrast, most of the other major juice brands are focused on a single-flavor family, such as apple, cranberry or grape. One-flavor companies are "often co-op producers," which by their nature are not oriented toward the broader category, she observed.

The assault on the shelf-juice category is a first for the brand. Until now, the Minute Maid logo could be found on frozen concentrates, aseptic juice boxes, refrigerated cartons, single-serve glass bottles and even vending machines, but never in the aisle, where the largest juice volume is handled, Crump said.

The rollout follows two years of testing here and in Chicago. So far, she said, 100% of supermarket retailers had authorized all six flavors, in her opinion an important aspect of category success.

The suggested price point for the 46-ounce bottle is $1.99, which Crump said positions the line competitively below many other branded juices. With a manufacturer coupon, first-time purchasers can buy a bottle for $1.44.

Crump said testing experience allows her to predict a "total category lift" in sales for retailers taking on the Minute Maid Naturals program. This halo effect extends to competing products as well as the company's own line, she said.

The program also will be backed by a variety of couponing vehicles, including in-store, national magazines, freestanding inserts and "aggressive national television advertising."