In the summer of 1998, three college friends started the production of smoothie drinks with no addictives and it was supported by the general public. This was the beginning of innocent limited. The company became Britain’s favorite drink company in a short while. The company reached an amazing £100 million in excess as annual turn over in less than ten years. (Innocent drinks 2000)
Today, the company’s financial success and it’s dominance of the smoothie sector, are all threatened by new challenges. If these challenges are not tackled properly and timely, the might destroy every thing innocent limited has built over the years. (Jobber 2009)
In this new millennium, computerization is the new trend for education, agriculture, technology and business. Today, virtually every thing is moves twice faster than it did ten years ago. (Osman 2008)
This development has taken business marketing strategy to the next level. Also, stagnant businesses crumbled with the influx of new ones. Marketing strategies are done at an advanced level today. This means the ideas of Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright who are co-founders of innocent limited, are brilliant and have also been successful. The trio were college friends and they noticed the absence of a smoothie company that produced 100 per cent natural products with no addictives. And this became a marketing strategy for innocent limited. Starting with an initial capital of £500, the company was able to reach an annual turn over more than £100 million in just 9 years (1998-2007) and this was extremely remarkable. Furthermore, innocent limited which started with 3 staffs in 1998 today has over 10,000 staffs world wide. The company also expanded and today it has branches all over Europe. (Innocent drinks)
Contrary to the usual strategy of making false promises to customers by big commercial companies, innocent limited introduced a marketing strategy of been sincere to its customers and that method has proved productive. Unlike other commercial companies, innocent limited took into consideration the welfare of its consumers by using pure fresh fruits and to adequately inform its customers about the naturalness of its products. Another unique feature of innocent’s marketing strategy is its one of a kind relationship with customers. The smooth interaction with customers has bridged the usual gap between companies and customers. It has rather strengthened the relationship between the two. (Innocent drinks 2000)
Starting with only three recipes in 1998, over the years it has introduced almost 30 new recipes. However, like every thing in life, there are challenges for innocent limited. But like every serious company, the constructive criticisms are usually taken serious and amends are made to the necessary areas. This is meant to improve the company’s standard and enable innocent limited maintain its dominance of the sector. (Innocent drinks 2000)
Environmental trends that enabled innocent build its dominant position in the smoothie market.
In 2008 South Africa recorded one of the highest cases of obesity in the world and there was a general increase in cases of obesity world wide. Eating habits have become a major source of concern for governments of different countries. (Osman 2008) Awareness campaigns about healthy eating are organized through different media mediums every where in the world today. With this awareness created world wide about healthy eating, the emergence of innocent limited was a solution to a lot of people who clamored for healthy foods but were time-poor. Before the emergence of innocent limited, people who were aware of healthy eating did not have the time to prepare healthy meals. With lots of bills to pay and other responsibilities, people usually worked extra jobs and late hours too. Therefore, innocent’s idea of producing healthy products came at a perfect timing. This environmental trend enabled innocent build its dominant position in the smoothie market over the years.
Furthermore, in an era where big companies tell a lot of lies to customers through advertisements, the public became skeptical about the authenticity of products. (Tony 2001) The cosmetic companies claim to produce creams that can eradicate wrinkles, make people look younger and live longer. Innocent’s sincerity about its products to customers enabled the company secure the trust of the public. The company’s products were certified truly natural by customers after consuming the products for a long time. (Innocent drinks 2000) This made consumers repose their confidence in innocent limited about the genuineness of the company’s products.
Also, the use of 100 per cent recyclable materials to package its products contributed to innocent’s dominance of the smoothie market. With the concern for the ozone layer and climate change, innocent limited is a perfect and ideal company for the public because it demonstrates concern for human lives and the environment. These factors are marketing strategies that helped innocent limited build its dominant position in the smoothie market. (Jobber 2009)
Strengths and Weaknesses of innocent’s Marketing Mix
Variety is truly the spice of life. Innocent’s ability to add about 30 new products to the initial 3 it started with is commendable. These enabled customers have a variety to choose from. A major weakness of innocent’s marketing mix is the absence of a medicinal product for the already sick people. Despite the demand to stay healthy, there are a couple of people who are already sick. This means the sick people are refrained from consuming certain products. The inability of innocent to produce a 100 per cent sugar free product for diabetic patients or an aloe Vera product which is highly medicinal, is marketing weakness. Also, the absence of a lime orange product which is a fat burner for fat and obese people is a great weakness and set back of the company.
Importance of innocent’s relationship with its customers
Communication is the bedrock of every relationship. Be it family relationships, medical or professional relationships, they are built on communication. This is no different in the business sector. (Richard 2004) Unfortunately, this is missing in a lot of businesses and companies world wide. This is different in innocent limited. For a company that was born through communication between the founders and customers, customer relationship is paramount in innocent limited. (Jobber 2009)
Furthermore, innocent’s relaxed and non formal relationship with its customers helped bridged the dichotomy that usually exists between other companies and their customers. Other than relating with customers through packaging, the company’s website is also designed in a manner to enable easy communication between customers and the company. From inception, innocent proved to be a customer friendly company and it has illustrated this over the years. The core values and beliefs of the founders were to be a generous, responsible, commercial, entrepreneurial and a natural distinctive company. This values and beliefs have been reflected, by involving customers in its key business decisions through feedbacks gotten from innocent village fete music festival. (Jobber 2009) This is another splendid marketing strategy initiated by innocent limited.
By building innocent in a mould of been a truthful company to its customers, this relationship has won the trust of the public. Customers have demonstrated their belief and trust of the company through patronage of innocent’s product regardless of the high pricing of these products compared to other companies. This was shown in the annual turn over more than £100 million in just 9 years after the birth of innocent limited. The unique relationship between innocent and its customers is no doubt the company’s most effective business strategy.
Critiquing innocent’s Claim of been an ethical company
A lot of claims are been made by different companies world wide. The cosmetic companies are known for making claims about producing creams that eradicate wrinkles and make people look younger. (Osman 2008) The detergents companies claim their products wash clothes brighter, faster and make them last longer. The pharmaceutical companies claim to make medicines that work faster and are most effective for certain diseases. (Peter 2009) The automobile companies claim to produce cars that are faster, more comfortable and safer to drive. The list is endless.
These claims are not true because for every situation there is an adversity. This is also applicable to innocent’s claim of been an ethical company. What the automobile companies do not tell customers is that, no matter how safe a car is built, it still requires a careful driver to utilize the safety components of the car. This means, if a safe car is given to a reckless driver, the car is more likely to become a wreck no matter how safe it was built. (Peter 2009)
The pharmaceutical companies do not explain to customers that no matter how effective a medicine might be, self medication with such medicines could lead to abuse or death. This means for an effective medicine to be fully utilized, it requires professionals like doctors and pharmacists to do the prescription and treatment respectively. (Norbert 2008)
In the same way, cosmetic companies fail to educate customers that when melanin pigment which is responsible for skin coloration and smoothness dies at the old age of an individual, no matter how effective a cosmetic cream might be, wrinkles will still appear on the body of such a person. (Michael 2000)
By claiming to be an ethical company, innocent limited is supposed to be a company which connects with the beliefs and principles about what is right and wrong for the general public. But its decision to in may 2007 to trial its kid smoothie in McDonalds goes against every thing the company preaches about been innocent and natural. (Jobber 2009) McDonalds is a company which has a reputation for using a lot of addictives, preservatives and sweeteners for their products. It was accused in 2008 for been among the top reason of obesity cases in South Africa. Innocent’s decision to partner with such a company automatically adulterates innocent’s purity. (Jobber 2009)
Also, for a company whose core values are to be entrepreneurial, natural, generous, responsible and commercial, innocent’s description of its products as been ideal for the cash-rich, time-poor and health conscious customers’ shows irresponsibility at a high level. The description counters its defense mechanism against criticism which the company claimed its products won’t be nice if made cheaper. The description only shows that innocent’s products from inception were not meant for the cash-poor, time rich and health-conscious people.
Innocent’s claim that its superfoods smoothie product was a natural detox was subsequently countered by the advertising standards authority (ASA) due to the absence of a scientific evidence to back the claim. For a company which claims to connect with the beliefs and principles of wrong and right to customers, wouldn’t it have been more proper for innocent limited to back its claim with scientific evidence? Such evidence would have again proven to customers about innocent’s sincerity and concern for customers. But the absence of any scientific evidence to back the claim that the superfoods product is a natural detox and it does not contain more antioxidants than the average five required by the government, is questionable. Exactly how ethical is innocent limited? (Jobber 2009)
Building a brand is a difficult task but sustaining that brand at a certain standard is even a more tedious and difficult task. Like every successful business, challenges are bound to arise. Therefore, innocent limited is expected to sit up and adjust the areas where there are constructive criticisms. (Kenneth 2007)
The marketing strategies of innocent limited have been successful over the years. But with new ideas emerging daily due to the competitive nature of the smoothie market, innocent limited needs to improve its ideas which may soon become archaic. Marketing strategies have gone beyond communicating with customers through packaging and the media or involving customers in company’s key decisions. (Innocent drinks 2000)
Over the years, innocent has gained a reputation for been a company that is concerned with the welfare of its customers as well as the environment. Also, the company is known for its sincerity to customers. But advertising a product like the superfoods with out adequate scientific back up could destroy the company’s reputation.
Regardless of the number in variety of innocent’s products, if these products do not cut across every human being regardless of age, race, location and religion then the company can as well, forget about been earth’s favorite drink company in 2030. The company needs to urgently introduce medicinal products like aloe Vera products, lime orange product which is a fat burner and other new products that will make innocent limited a one stop shop for every kind of drink. (Jobber 2009)
Lastly, innocent limited must improve on its pricing. With the global economic crisis threatening the entire world, people have cut back on spending tremendously. Moreover, in the long run there is a tendency that a new company might be willing to produce same smoothie products as innocents’ at a lower price as a business strategy to counter innocent’s dominance of the smoothie sector. (Jobber 2009)
With the aforementioned reasons, it is hoped that innocent limited will improve on its strengths and correct its weaknesses to maintain its dominance of the smoothie market and to achieve its goal of been earth’s favorite food company in 2030.
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