The objective of this assignment is to evaluate what a global company needs to consider in how to engage and stay relevant to consumers through promotional activities, considering the cultural differences.
You will be researching Jones Soda. Here is the background:
Every great product has a secret formula. Coca-Cola’s legendary recipe is locked deep within the vaults in its Atlanta headquarters.KFC mixes different parts of its 11 herbs and spices at three separate facilities to safeguard the Colonel’s secret bland. McDonald’s hunted down its original special-sauce mix for Big Macs last year as part of its turnaround effort.
Jones Soda, the small Seattle soft drink maker, has its own secret ingredient – one that has created buzz, at one point produced 30 percent yearly revenue growth in a flat beverage market, drawn major distribution partners such as Starbucks and Target, and brought in $30 million in annual revenue.
That ingredient: a small but growing following of devout customers.
These are not just any customers — Jones Soda knows its niche. It targets young buyers — 12 to 24-year-old — who appreciate the brand’s wacky, irreverent attitude. By focusing in on these customers, listening to them, and giving them what they want, Jones Soda is thriving in the shadows of the soft drink giants.
Virtually everything about a Jones Soda, from labels to flavors, comes from its carefully targeted customers. The world is not clamoring for another soda, even if it tastes like blue bubblegum. So how do you sell a non-necessity product? (“non-necessity” because it is not an essential food source you need for nutrition)
According to van Stolk (the founder, but no longer CEO), who started Jones Soda in 1986, “People get fired up about Jones because it’s theirs.” It all started with the Web site Jones Soda launched in 1997. Hundreds of comments poured in from customers, and van Stolk quickly took up their suggestions and online votes for neon colors, wacky names (like Fufu Berry, Whoops Ass, MF Grape, and Bada Bing!) and off-beat flavors (including blue bubblegum, crushed melon, and twisted lime — or even strange seasonal flavors like fruitcake of turkey and gravy). Van Stolk also encouraged customers to submit photos, and the eccentric and strangely captivating images on Jones’s stark black-and-white bottle labels have come largely from fans. Jones also stays close to its 12- to 24-year-old customers with a pair of roving RVs. The two flame-festooned vehicles spend nine months out of the year visiting Jones-friendly sites, from small skate parks in the middle of nowhere to major extreme-games competitions such as the X Games.
Whereas its mainstream competitors work at making something for everyone, Jones Soda understands the importance of sticking to its niche. “If you’re able to listen to customers from their perspective,” van Stolk says, “not everything they do will be right. But you’ll know more about what you have to do because of it.” So far, Jones Soda has learned that small can be beautiful — and very profitable. Jones Soda may not be in the mainstream anymore in the competitive beverage market, but it is still considered valued brand.
For submission and presentation in class, research the following questions. College level research and critical thinking responses are expected. MLA citation required.