The ingredients for fresh marketing investment

Suntory’s Ribena UK brand sales dipped this year, alongside a surge in European supply chain costs that has forced the holding firm amending its full-year outlook.

The brand will be hoping its recent promotion of Hannnah Norbury to Group Marketing Director is a sign of better things to come. Having spent the last 3 years as Channel Director for OOH for Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s brands, her appointment could signal a review of creative strategy – including 3-year incumbent Grey - in the coming months. Prospective agencies here may want to note that the brand has its own in-house production team TED, which launched in Spring 2017, while it currently relies on Grey for “strategy, big creative concepts and big production”.

The UK saw a 15% surge in sales of low-and-no-sugar drinks in the two-week period after the proposed ‘Sugar Tax’ was implemented in April. Suntory is expected to put ingredients closer to the heart of its strategy moving into 2019, as the new soft drinks levy continues to drive the category away from added sugar. But this isn’t without its challenges…

Research investments to inform future NPD: The brand’s decision to swap out the sugar in its drinks with natural sweeteners acesulfame K and sucralose in March received mixed reviews from its drinkers. We think it will increase its use of qualitative research methods when road-mapping product development in order to better understand consumer attitudes. Projects spanning pack design and shopper marketing will also be scrutinised to ensure innovation meets consumer expectation. One area of interest could be the push towards flavoured water, with British consumption increasing by 33m litres last year – roughly 7%.

Sustainable messaging: With negative perceptions surrounding the soft drinks category having damaged its reputation in recent years, sustainable messaging will be central to Ribena’s strategy to regain the attention of its millennial parent target demographic. Ribena became the first major UK soft drink to use 100% recycled plastic bottles over ten years ago. Positioning at the forefront of the battle against plastic waste is therefore set to become more central as it aims to generate brand preference. This, tied into any NPD, is expected to command a more central place in its messaging to engage a younger audience. Potential ethical partnerships could also offer a platform for future content generation and on-pack marketing, driving greater brand preference as well as on-shelf stand-out.

Media Spend Q1-3 2018: £9,986,574

Agencies: MediaCom, Grey London

Key decision-makers:

Group Marketing Director Hannah Norbury - connect

Marketing Manager Ribena & Orangina Michelle Darlington - connect