Sunkist brand manager talks about rebranding plans

James Nichols, brand manager for carbonated drinks brand Sunkist, talks to The Drum about the redesign of the brand logo, the brand extension that is to launch later this year and how he aims to market the extension.

Why has Sunkist chosen to rebrand and expand the range?

The whole rebrand was set about by the US which has changed its logo and branding generally in the US. We wanted to reflect that in the UK but we’ve created out own style in order to do so. We didn’t believe that the US cans had enough shelf stand out for the UK market so we’ve incorporated the logo used by the US but we’ve redesigned the cans to better reflect the UK consumer, however we have based the design in the roots of Sunkist, as in California and taken a surf theme in terms of the background pattern and then rolled that out across the various different flavours.

Why has the brand chosen to expand its range of Sunkist flavours?

We very much want to realign the brand from just being recognised as an orange carbonate into a fruit flavoured carbonate. When you mention Sunkist, people remember it from days of old as a Fizzy Orange and we want to expand the brand into different flavour areas and the flavours we’ve chosen work particularly well in different categories. Orange and Passion Fruit for example, in the juice category, is one of the leading juice flavours and Summer Fruits in the ready-to drink category is the second biggest flavour and in the cordial category it is probably the third biggest flavour and yet that wasn’t reflected. No body else produces that in a carbonated drink.

How will the new range be marketed?

It will be promoted at local level through the outlet that sells the product. So from the cash-and-carries, and the delivered wholesale will deliver specific advertising to their customers. Initially it’s very much about gaining distribution for the Sunkist brand before we do any above-the-line or consumer activity. There will be PR surrounding it, but the biggest drive at the moment is getting it out into the trade.

Should we expect to see an above-the-line campaign run later in the year?

For a specific above-the-line campaign, it wouldn’t be for this year. We want to grow the brand to a substantial level first but we have achieved that really well so far by promoting it in the accounts that it’s held, particularly with the likes of Macro and Booker, so we would like to roll that out across other accounts and those will be the first steps before any about-the-line campaign.

Which stockists will handle the brand?

It will be predominantly sold through independent retailers, caters, fish and chip shops, sandwich vans, sandwich shops, that kind of outlet. It will be generally bought by the independents as opposed to specific agreements with chained retailers.

How big a decision was it to launch these brand extentions for Sunkist?

With the research that we’ve done, we are confident that the flavours that we have chosen combined with the fact that they are all big players in other categories, we believe that it is the right route to go down and with the performance of Sunkist’s other flavours, it is a sensible thing to do. We are aware that there is a demand out there for other flavours so in that respect it isn’t a huge risk because we’ve done the research to say that it’s the right route to take.

How do you hope to compete against your competitors without any initial marketing?

Largely with price. We are offering a great tasting range of products with either flavours that aren’t available from our competitors. So, for example, Fanta don’t do an Orange and Passion Fruit or Summer Fruits, but equally against the one which already exist, we compete on price. So it’s a cheaper product for the retailers to buy and therefore it’s an opportunity for retailers to enhance their margins.

The Sunkist rebrand and range extension will roll out in the UK from May.

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