Chilled Innovation: ZICO Unveils New Coconut Water Blends

ZICO_ChilledFor those looking to save a few calories and chew on a bit less fat, swapping their deliciously greasy pork bacon to a healthier option such as lean, yet still flavorful, turkey bacon is not the end of the world. Yet, ask those same folks to stomach some soy bacon (which as we all know tastes like cardboard) and well, that’s just took big of a leap.

It’s that line of thinking that has propelled the launch of ZICO Chilled Premium Coconut Water & Juice Blends (ZICO Chilled Juice, for short), a new line of 100 percent juice products from the coconut water brand that is set to debut next month.

Lorna Peters, Chief Marketing Officer, ZICO said that the new line is aimed at reaching mainstream consumers who want to make better choices when it comes to healthy eating, but are not willing to compromise on taste. She noted that while many are aware of the nutritional value and relatively low calorie content of coconut water, they’re still apprehensive about drinking the liquid straight. With the launch of the new blends, it’s “the best of both worlds,” Peters said, as the products offer the flavor delivery and benefits of juice, but with less calories.

“It’s somewhere in the middle, where they’re making a move in the right direction,” Peters said. “They feel comfortable that they’re making a better choice. That’s really not only what consumers are looking for, but what retailers [want]. They’re actively asking us to grow the line into other categories.”

John Lynch, the general manager of ZICO Chilled Juice, called the new products “dramatically different” from a line of similarly sized beverages that the brand launched in March, 2013. At that time, ZICO unveiled a trio of 1.5 L Tetra Paks in original, chocolate and strawberry banana varieties. After a limited test in New York and Texas, however, ZICO discontinued the products.

The new ZICO Chilled Juice products are made with not from concentrate coconut water and, in the case of the blends, fruit juice with no added water. Initially available in three SKUs –Orange, Pineapple Mango and “Natural” — the beverages contain five electrolytes and are touted as having “up to 50% fewer calories than regular fruit drinks.”

ZICO has laid out a retail strategy in which the new juice line will be marketed and sold at conventional grocers, specifically in the refrigerated cases of natural food sections. It’s a shift for a brand whose beverages are most often sold on ambient shelves, and while Lynch acknowledged that space is often limited in natural food sections, he noted that many chains are in the process of expanding the departments as interest and awareness of natural products continues to grow. As a result, the sections are becoming more approachable and accessible for mainstream consumers.

“We’re very confident [it’s] the best place for the products,” Lynch said.

Priced at $7.99, ZICO Chilled Juice would likely be placed alongside other natural beverage brands such as POM Wonderful and Sambazon, Lynch said, and noted that retailer feedback about the new line has been favorable and “extremely consistent” in terms of taste, packaging and value.

The launch of ZICO Chilled Juice is the first new product launch for the brand since last year’s introduction of ZICO Tropical, a blend of coconut water from concentrate, pineapple juice, orange juice, passionfruit juice, and guava puree. The product was sold exclusively at specialty grocer Trader Joe’s, and despite some success, Tropical was discontinued amid the development of the Chilled line, which Peters explained delivers on a much more evolved and higher quality taste.

And while ZICO has also discontinued its much-heralded Latte product, the brand has a range of innovation in the pipeline, including single-serve varieties of its Chilled line, which will launch in early-2015.

“We’ve been in a period of transition,” Peters said, referring to the Coca-Cola Co. completing its acquisition of ZICO in November. “We’ve made a lot of small, quick innovations in the past and some them worked well, and we had great success; [ZICO] Chocolate is a fantastic example of that. And then some didn’t work as well and weren’t as successful. And what we’re trying to do is really learn from some of those initiatives that we’ve done in the past, and make fewer, but bigger bets. And so we’re on all in on ZICO Chilled Juice… and trying to get our company and system behind us.”