BevNET TV: An Interview with Arnulfo Ventura of Cobá

Maybe we should be angrier. After all, it was at the December, 2010 BevNET Live that  Arnulfo Ventura, founder of the aguas frescas drink Bonadea, took part in the live product review panel for emerging brands.

But we didn’t know – and neither did the panel – that while the whole thing was going on, Ventura and co-founder Jose Domene were already working away at giving Bonadea a thorough rebranding.

Three months later, Ventura and Domene arrived at Natural Products Expo West with a completely redesigned product. The label went from white with New Age font to sky blue with tropically-themed lettering. The bottle was slightly rounder and squat, and the beverage itself now contained organic agave nectar as a sweetener instead of sugar. Most importantly, Bonadea had been rechristened Cobá.

In this recent interview with BevNET founder John Craven at Cobá headquarters in Los Angeles, Ventura explains the story behind the unintended deception. Early in the development of Bonadea, he explained, the pair invested in market research tools to find out what customers liked about their product and aguas frescas in general, as well as how and where communication could be enhanced. Their findings indicated that consumers yearned for an authentic-looking product that was more in line with the history and culture of aguas frescas than what they were offering in Bonadea.

“[At that] point, we knew we had to make a major change,” Ventura said. “The question was, ‘how do we communicate that we have the most authentic aguas frescas on the market from a packaging standpoint so that the outside of the bottle tells you how good the stuff inside of the bottle really is?’”

They decided that Cobá — translated as “waters stirred by wind” — was the answer. With a look and feel that lends itself to a more traditional version of aguas frescas, the bottle takes its shape from the customary Mexican frescas barrels and the labeling pays homage to Mexico’s Mayan heritage. However, Ventura stressed that, “Nothing has changed from our strategy. This is just a better way to communicate the brand and its core values.”

Watch this interview to hear more about Ventura’s take on the emerging category, including his thoughts on the May entry of Nestle USA into the aguas frescas fray, the emerging Hispanic constituency for the product, and the overall issues of growth for a small, ethnically-themed product.