Bevscape Innovation

Beverage brands seeking to reach consumers in a world of rapidly-shifting media habits may be overlooking their most reliable line of communication: cell phones.

“The most ubiquitous communication device the world has ever known is the phone,” said Anthony Risicato, CEO of New York-based Mobile Commons.

His company connects brands with consumers through text messages, an advertising vehicle that Risicato said boasts a 95 percent “open rate” – a measure of how often they are read by the recipients. The catch with Mobile Commons and other reputable firms is that they only send messages to users who opt in to the program, he said. Therefore, marketers need to offer an enticement to get consumers to join.

The Coca-Cola Co., Inc. has done this by allowing consumers to text under-cap My Coke Rewards codes. Risicato said he worked with a vodka brand that delivered ice to parties in response to texted requests, and GTOX, an independent anti-hangover shot, simply placed an on-package request for consumer feedback.

“Upwards of 80 percent said they actually thought the product helped them,” said GTOX vice president of marketing Jackson Zapp.

Once the marketer has a consumer’s cell phone number, Risicato said, they can use it to ask for more information – like the consumer’s zip code to better target retail placement and promotions – or send coupon codes, text reminders or calls from brand spokespersons.

But not too many. Marketers that abuse their call lists risk driving their consumers to opt out, Risicato said. He recommends marketers limit themselves to one message per week.

Other firms allow marketers to target smart phone consumers – list free – by geographic area. MobiQpons distributes coupons and advertisements to its smart-phone application users based on their GPS coordinates. The firm’s customers choose a geographic location, and MobiQpons distributes promotions to all users within 10 miles. While the program is geared mostly toward restaurants and retailers, it can also work for beverage brands.

Founder and CEO Navneet Aron said beverage marketers could center their promotions on a key retailer. They can also instantly update their central location to correspond with sampling or sponsorship events.

New York-based brand and consumer loyalty and engagement consultancy Brand Keys has conducted its 14th annual survey of customer loyalty. The Brand Keys Customer

Loyalty Engagement Index measures attributes relating to “brand” and the degree to which brands affect customer decision-making, category-expectations, and engagement have increased significantly.

According to Brand Index, category drivers are predictive of how consumers will behave in a given category. These drivers have shifted this year, and all brand-related characteristics are making larger contributions to the consumer engagement and loyalty process, specifically in the areas where consumers expect the most in the category.

The beverage brands that received the highest loyalty and engagement assessments for 2010 were as follows:

BEER (light)

Coors Light
Miller Lite
Bud Light
Michelob Light
Amstel Light

BEER (regular)

Sam Adams
Miller Genuine


Aquafina (tie)
San Pellegrino (tie)
Poland Spring
Crystal Geyser
Acqua Panna
Deer Park

BOTTLED WATER (enhanced)

Vitamin Water
Nestle Pure Life
Smart Water


Diet Pepsi
Diet Coke
Diet 7-UP
Diet Dr. Pepper

SOFT DRINK (regular)

Mountain Dew
Dr. Pepper

Chemicals that activate calcium receptors on the tongue may enhance sweet and salty tastes in foods, according to a study conducted by Japanese flavor company, Ajinomoto.

The company’s research, published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, could allow food manufacturers to produce products with minimal salt and sugar while still delivering a strong taste.

In other sweetener news, GLG Life Tech Corporation announced the launch of Sweet Success, a new line extension of stevia extract-based sweeteners. The launch will include a number of new products that are expected to be available by March.

The series maintains the taste, natural credentials and zero-calorie advantages of stevia sweeteners, but also allows food and beverage manufacturers flexibility on the cost of goods. The new product line is expected to be available in the second quarter, with customer sampling for trial testing available as early as March.

Perhaps validating why most energy drink marketers target teenage boys with a laser focus, new research published in the trade journal Behavioral Pharmacology shows that adolescent boys are more responsive to caffeine than girls in the same age range.

The study’s authors expected to find that 12-17 year-old participants who consumed more caffeine would be more interested in the stimulant. Instead, they found that male participants, after the exposure period, worked significantly longer than female participants to earn a caffeinated soda by playing a computer game.