Eau…Coffee!

Danone Launches a Fruit and Coffee Infused Mineral Water

Hoping to leverage the growing RTD coffee trend Danone has developed a fruit & coffee infused mineral water range, under the Volvic brand. Trumpeted as an alternative to Iced Tea, the new products will launch into the German market, initially distributed via food retailers including Edeka and Globus. There are three flavours: Mocca & Lemon, Robusta & Cassis and Arabica & Maracuja Litchi. There’s a choice of serve sizes, with 37cl and 75cl pack formats. The drinks weigh in at ten calories per 10cl and are naturally sweetened (with cane sugar). SRP (suggested retail price) is EUR0.99 / US$1.10 for the 37cl bottle and EUR1.69 / US$1.90 for the larger option.

Packaging Tells the Liquid Story

Volvic Launch Water + Coffee
Volvic Launch Water + Coffee

Cold Brew / ‘Nitro’ coffee, though niche, is already a Thing. Water + fruit is nothing new.  Water + coffee (and fruit) is novel to say the least. To help us understand the concept visually, Volvic uses packaging graphics to great effect. Say what you see: Water with a couple of coffee beans plopped in. There’s fruit in there too. We get the general idea immediately, which is no small feat. It’s actually the same approach Volvic used in launching their water + tea flavour range (follow the link to take a look).

https://www.danone.com/brands/waters/volvic.html

Brand and Concept Lack Integration

It’s not a stretch for consumers to understand water+ fruit. It’s nothing new; there is little that needs explaining. Adding coffee is another thing. As we’ve already said, the whole pack is pretty much dedicated to dramatizing the flavour concept. But how does this gel with the brand? This is the tricky part for Volvic. In a packaged beverage context coffee has the potential to mean more than a flavour. Coffee is a deeply intrinsic and functional product – one that is far removed from the competence of the Brand. It’s also increasingly a lifestyle idea. The brand’s relationship to such a potent addition begs to be explained. But Volvic don’t try to square the circle. While the packaging graphics work hard to convey the liquid concept, the brand mark and logo are not integrated (or ‘locked-up’) with the product descriptor – which is itself expressed at a generic level. As a result, the familiar Volvic Volcano – belonging to the core water range – looks more than a little incongruous in this new setting. More might have been done to make something of the idea of coffee in water, and to make it feel proprietary to the Volvic brand.

Liquid Communication Help Position Versus Iced Tea & Cold Brew

When it comes to liquid colour, and what that communicates, Volvic didn’t want to leave us wondering. Thanks to a partially clear bottle we can see that the liquid isn’t as dark in colour as Cold Brew. It’s a lighter than most Iced Teas.  Volvic  is communicating lightness (calories / sweetness) and not too much coffee taste. As a water brand Volvic might have gone for a clear product, but what would that have told us?

Flavour Not Function

Coffee naturally contains caffeine. But this is a flavoured water not a functional water proposition. It’s about hydration, so there’s no caffeine added. Have Volvic missed a trick? Adding coffee at least raises the energy question, and they must have considered it. On the other hand, if you keep adding ingredients and benefits at some point the product isn’t water anymore. Adding coffee to water in this way is already a stretch, for the brand and for consumers.

When Worlds Collide

At the end of the day this is water + coffee (and fruit) flavour. It’s a flavoured water proposition by definition. But consumers will be the Judge and Jury! Will they see a flavoured water? Or might they perceive a confusing hybrid? Not Cold Brew, not an obvious alternative to Iced Tea, but somehow not quite water either. Consumers necessarily make sense of products through categories. In the context of packaged water, adding fruit is understood – it’s just a flavour. We’ve all done it ourselves.  And we’ve all made coffee too. But adding coffee to water (in this way, in a packaged water) is to bring two separate worlds together in an unfamiliar fashion, adding up to make a distinctive but potentially polarising play.

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