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Food & Drink Brand Strategy Health

Why Britvic’s CMO is marketing ‘ecosystems’ not products

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By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

February 23, 2024 | 8 min read

As part of The Drum’s Food & Drink Focus, we sit down with the soft drinks company’s Cindy Tervoort, who is one of our judges for this year’s The Drum Marketing Awards, to hear how the chief marketer is leading a shift in mindset at the 180-year-old company.

Britvic drinks being enjoyed by different people

Drinks for every moment in the day / Britvic

Britvic’s topline strategy is to be an around-the-clock beverage provider, from starting your day with one of its Plenish ginger shots to getting your afternoon pick-me-up from a can of Tango to mixing your nightcap with its London Essence premium mixers.

While the business has legacy brands in Robinsons Squash, J20, R Whites lemonade and more, recently, it has been acquiring startup brands that have the potential to help it put its fingers into a lot more pies.

Since taking the reins six months ago, its chief marketing officer Cindy Tervoort’s grand ambition is to drive category and brand penetration. As she tells The Drum: “We still feel there are certain categories that we can drive, especially in the area of health and wellbeing, where there’s so much going on. We’re not only looking at need states, but we’re also really looking at demographics and how we can build out franchises – it’s almost that brands are becoming ecosystems.”

For example, its plant-powered drinks brand, Plenish, sits across food and drink, selling oat milk, ginger shots and soup. It also shows up both in ordinary retailers, such as Sainsbury’s, and in the wellness space, with its cleansing and fasting plans. “From one brand that is based on clean label pure ingredients, you can look at the need states and build it out into relevant categories,” says Tervoort.

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Then there is the water brand Aqua Libra, which sells cans of flavored water but also installs smart water taps in homes and businesses – an “ecosystem” of products and services all built off the mission to help people be more hydrated, as Tervoort puts it.

“We’ve retained the best of the brands by not fully integrating them, instead running an incubator model where we keep the marketing quite separate so the brand can keep the core of what it stands for but with the sales support of the mother company.”

Britvic has been on a journey of digital transformation, which kicked off a couple of years ago. E-commerce and direct-to-consumer were major priorities for the drinks giant, which led it to recruit Tervoort from Heineken, where she was running the brewer’s e-commerce site Beerwulf.

As part of the digital transformation plan, Britvic opened an in-house studio to test and learn as well as to produce daily content to run across its marketing channels. “That is an important way to keep moving and to adopt a startup mentality in some of the processes that we have.”

How Britvic is capitalizing on food & drink trends

The public health conversation in the UK has for a long time been dominated by obesity and focused on conversations around low calorie and HFSS. But now, Tervoort says, the health trend has become more complex. “Low calorie is still extremely important, but now you have to look as well at unprocessed, clean and natural plant-based products, health benefits and functionalities.”

The change in alcohol consumption habits is another trend Britvic is leaning into, with Tervoort calling this space “premium adult socializing.” The flavored tonic water brand London Essence and Britvic mixers, for example, are being marketed as ways to jazz up a drink without alcohol through virgin cocktails or as an “elevated” drink on its own.

The third trend is around young people’s appetites for “bold, exciting flavors and full taste.” This has sparked new Tango flavors including mango, dark berry and peachy berry.

Injecting creativity back into Tango

Tango is a “huge priority in Britvic’s portfolio,” having grown its revenue by 24% in 2023, according to end-of-year financial reports, while its classic advertising is still loved in the UK, with the famous ‘Orangeman’ ranking among The World’s

Best Ads of All Time. Since then, Tango advertising hasn’t been as prominent.

“The strength of Tango is that it has so much brand heritage and brand love, but everything that it stands for is relevant nowadays. The body flavors and the whole personality connect with Gen Z.” In 2023, Tango launched a multi-million-pound marketing campaign with the TV ad ‘Dangerously Potent Flavor.’ It is also showing its creativity through its packaging, with its newest release, Tango Mango, having printed lids for the first time, for example.

Tango

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“The essence has stayed the same, but the advertising has evolved with people and times – it reinvents itself every time.”

Creativity is a priority for Tervoort and will be at the center of the brand’s global marketing conference in March. The conference will have “communities of practice,” bringing together marketers from similar categories but from different regions to share cultural inspiration.

“In a world where things are so fragmented and it easy to get distracted in any channel, that true creativity can create impact. You need to be interesting to consumers.”

From fast food to sloe gin, the food & drink space is massively appetizing to marketers. Join us as we dig into some of the sector’s biggest trends during The Drum’s Food & Drink Focus.

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