The soft drinks industry is a mature, which is comprised of giant firms such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes, who strive to push their long standing brands to the top of the selling charts. In spite of this cut-throat competition, the American consumer products giant proctor & Gamble decided to branch out into this field in the late 1990s. Its marketing wizards were convinced they had identified a gap in the market, and soon came up with an innovative product meant to fill this gap. It was a brand-new juice, called Sunny Delight, was cleverly designed as a compromise between fruit juices and unhealthy fizzy drinks. The advertising campaigns devised by the marketing gurus from Saatchi and Saatchi emphasized the funny side of the product, as well as its healthy attributes which made the product appealing to both children and parents.
After running a successful trial in the provincial town of Carlisle, proctor & Gamble decided the launch of the product in a big way. In order to capitalize on Sunny Delight's mum appeal, the firm flooded consumers with product samples. It also handed out rebate vouchers so as to lure consumers away from their favorite soft drinks.
[...] The firm had no other choice but to dispose its “killer product”, and Sunny Delight was eventually sold to private equity firm JW Childs Associates. Proctor & Gamble's major mistake, it seems, was to focus on strategy and marketing issues, and to be quite contemptuous of consumer satisfaction. Instead of urging its product developers to create a juice combining a healthy appeal with genuine healthy attributes, it came up with a drink that had relatively poor features, and based Sunny Delight's business model on mischievous tricks geared which were misleading take, for instance, the use of vegetable oil in order to enhance its appeal to children, or the placement of the product in the chiller cabinet. [...]
[...] At the same time, newspapers gleefully revealed that a young Sunny Delight addict had turned orange after having drunk large quantities of the juice. Consumers realised that they had been misled by proctor & Gamble's AD campaigns, and decided to make the firm pay for their actions. Sales dropped all the more as proctor did not control the crisis effectively. The company remained silent, instead of tackling critics head- on. The product's managers first tried to pump up sales by using the fun factor of the beverage. [...]
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