Make It Personal

Sarah Theodore

The University of Michigan last month released the results of its American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), and one of the most interesting results was that the soft drink industry ranked at the top of the list in consumer satisfaction, along with personal care and cleaning products. According to the survey’s authors, this is because “These industries offer as many differentiated products as there are different consumer tastes.” Consumer segmentation has been in full swing this year, and the companies that have embraced the concept of just-for-me products scored the highest among survey respondents.
The trend has turned the tables on the marketing world as well, with marketers no longer just creating messages for consumers, but allowing them to create their own content. The Coca-Cola Co. joined with YouTube this holiday season for the Coca-Cola Holiday WishCast, which includes Coca-Cola commercials attached to holiday greetings created by video bloggers. YouTube users can e-mail the video cards as holiday greetings.
Other companies such as Frito-Lay and Cadbury Schweppes also have tapped consumers for their video creative, with plans to broadcast the commercials on TV. According to the companies involved, producing user-generated content is a pastime of many consumers in their teens and 20s.
As we move into the new year, I have to believe one of the strongest trends we will see in 2007 is the continued segmentation of the industry in terms of both product development and marketing. It seems it won’t be long before consumers are able to order the exact product they want, then sit down and create their own commercial to sell it to themselves.
Since I was thinking futuristically, I asked the rest of the Beverage Industry staff to share their predictions for the new year as well. The predictions include:
• More attention will be paid to sanitation and safety in primary packaging.
• Fortified and organic drinks will come under greater scrutiny by the FDA.
• Craft and imported beers will achieve 25 percent share of the domestic beer market.
• Continued growth in the energy drink category — but energy drinks, enhanced waters and juices will continue their search for niches.
• Tea will continue to grow.
• We’ll hear more about excess packaging… mainly because of Wal-Mart’s new requirements.
• Premium, niche and specialty products in all categories will continue to increase.
• More people will learn to read… the label, that is.
• People still will be trying to figure out China and its market potential.
• The natural, better-for-you energy drink sub-category will begin to grow nearly as fast as its regular counterparts.

We’d love to know your predictions for the new year. Visit our Web site at and take part in our Web poll to tell us what you think will drive the beverage industry in 2007. Until then, best wishes for a safe and happy new year.
Sneak Peek
Bottler of the year — Buffalo Rock
Category Focus — Juice & juice drinks
Beverage R&D — Product development / Flavor usage survey
Packaging — Closures

Cover Profile — Fiji Water
Category Focus — Tea and ready-to-drink tea
Beverage R&D — Safety check-up Packaging — Labeling materials