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Meridian Success Story: 8

LaCroix Sparkling Water, originally launched, and then relaunched with Meridian’s help, by G. Heileman Brewing Company, now owned by National Beverage Corporation

LaCroix Sparkling Water Battles to Sizable Market Share in Category Then Owned by One Brand, Perrier, by Becoming the “Anti-Perrier” Brand

The unexpected success of the LaCroix relaunch in the early-1990s owed in large part to how well the “Anti-Perrier” marketing strategy was executed in the design of product packaging

Meridian’s work guided decisions about both LaCroix marketing strategy and packaging selection

  • Issues on Early-1990s Relaunch of LaCroix Water:
    1. Lack of Heileman Experience in this Non-Beer Category: Heileman, brewers and marketers of Old Style beer, viewed sparkling water as a potential company expansion platform, but recognized their inexperience in this category where drivers of brand preference differed markedly from the beer business
    2. Positioning a New Brand Against Market Leader, Perrier: A key challenge would be successfully introducing a competing sparkling water brand into a market dominated by Perrier, positioned as the “elegant” sparkling water
    3. Agreement that New LaCroix Packaging Would be Critical to Success: Investment had been made by Heileman in development of a series of new LaCroix package designs as potential alternatives to the then-current design, including both bottle shape and labeling alternatives
  • MAI Contributions:
    1. Series of MAI Marketing Studies Commissioned: MAI designed and implemented a competitive brand assessment along with both qualitative and quantitative consumer studies, the combination of which directed overall marketing, including packaging, strategy and execution decisions for the LaCroix relaunch
    2. A Unique LaCroix Target Was Identified: The first MAI study identified a highly-attractive target segment of prospective sparkling water users not at all interested in the Perrier brand and its “snobbish / expensive / for special occasions” positioning
    3. Label Design Least Favored by Management Wins with Target Consumers: Among package designs evaluated, MAI research led to recommendation of the design considered least appealing by the Heileman Marketing Group. The MAI-recommended design:
      1. Promoted an “all occasion” image
      2. Offered strong LaCroix name presence
      3. Used elements that were most consistent with water imagery to the newly-identified target segment
    4. Sparkling Water in Cans a Surprise Winner – with Cans Becoming a Strong Long-Term Contributor for LaCroix: Another unexpected research result was the surprising consumer enthusiasm for sparkling water in cans, a packaging idea that had not yet been introduced in this category. LaCroix’s subsequent introduction of sparkling water in cans allowed the brand to capture the lion’s share of new category growth from this innovation
  • Results:
    1. Winning Package Design from MAI Research Was Introduced on LaCroix Relaunch – and Has Been Continued for 15+ Years: While undergoing modest updates, today’s LaCroix packaging has maintained the look and imagery of the original MAI-recommended design
    2. LaCroix Brand is Today Tied for #2 in $300 Million Category: Successful execution of the “anti-Perrier” strategy, in all its forms, has been a key factor enabling LaCroix to end up in a tight race for #2 among sparkling water brands in a category that today exceeds $300 million in annual sales
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