The Juicy Push Behind Fruit2day

Hero, an international branded consumer-foods group, is hoping to make a splash in the U.S. juice category with the introduction of Fruit2day—juice that contains real pieces of fruit. The company, which already sells the product in Europe, will support the launch with a TV campaign breaking this week. Fruit2day comes in four varieties: Cherry grape, mango peach, pineapple banana and strawberry orange; a two-pack sells for $3.79. Scott Stevens, vp of marketing for Hero-WhiteWave, the joint venture that was formed to market the product in the U.S., said Fruit2day helps meet the recommended daily four servings of fruit, and is ideal for health-conscious consumers with busy schedules. The effort for Fruit2day, via kirshenbaum bond + partners, New York, carries the tagline, “A new way to eat fruit.” Stevens chatted with Brandweek about the new campaign, the product’s growth potential and how health and convenience are driving the category. Here’s what he had to say:

Brandweek: You’ve launched a campaign this week to promote Fruit2day, a new convenience drink with real fruit bits. How is this different from other products in the category?
Scott Stevens: It’s an all-natural fruit juice—fruit puree with real bits of fruit in it. We tend to call it a fruit snack—the act of drinking and chewing on the little bits of fruit at the same time provides a filling, satisfying snack for people. When we look at the category of convenient fruit, broadly speaking, there are premium juices that some people purchase to get fruit in their diet. But Fruit2day is unique, given that it has little pieces of fruit in it and it’s packaged in a [way] that gives you two servings of fruit, no sugar added, no preservatives and it only has 110 to 120 calories.

BW: So how exactly would you categorize the product?
SS: To some extent, we are a hybrid between premium juice and prepackaged, cut fruit as we offer a more convenient format for getting fruit in your diet rather than having to use a fork or a spoon to eat a little tub of cut fruit.

BW: What’s driving demand for this product?
SS: When you step back and look at the broader trends that are going on out there, people are continually looking for healthy, all natural food and beverage options that fit into their busy, hectic, on-the-go lifestyles. Those are big, macro trends that are driving that. We are absolutely seeing a lot of growth in this area. We think we’ve got a really unique way of addressing that need for consumers and I believe we can continue to help drive a lot of growth in the category.

As much as some people love fruit, 90 percent of people don’t get the recommended daily amount of fruit in their diet. This product has potential because whole fruit can be inconvenient because you have to peel it and you have to deal with it getting spoiled or bruised.

BW: The brand’s been building distribution since May. How is it doing? Is it available in all food, drug and mass channels and what kind of consumer response have you gotten as a result of it?
SS: We started shipping nationally in May. We’ve had tremendous response from retailers across the country. We’re building distribution in national grocery stores, retailers and natural food stores every week. The club stores are carrying it also. We have mass merchandisers who have accepted it or are getting ready to bring it to their stores. You look everywhere and you can start to find it. At the same time, now that we have been building distribution, we are seeing consumer purchase behavior begin to build up as they become more and more aware of it. We are reaching the tip of the inflection point where we’re ready to turn on the broader marketing and media messaging behind the brand to further accelerate the whole awareness and brand building curve.

BW: What’s the product’s back story?
SS: It was launched in Europe by one of our parent companies [Hero Group]. We are a joint venture between Hero from Europe and WhiteWave [a subsidiary of Dean Foods] in the U.S. The Hero Group had launched Fruit2day four years ago in Europe and they had really nice success with it in a variety of countries based on the same [market] situation: People looking for convenient ways of getting fruit in their diet. The U.S. was one of the places they had on their radar screen and we saw it was a good opportunity, hence the joint venture before between Hero and WhiteWave.

BW: Target consumer for this brand?
SS: We’re targeting adults who are healthy minded and would like to get more fruit in their diets, but are leading busy, on-the-go lives and find it difficult to sit down and carve open a pineapple in order to eat a serving of fruit. The appeal is obvious: It’s a simpler and easier way to incorporate two servings of fruit into my diet, as I commute to work in the morning, as a mid-morning snack, and we are finding it to be very appealing to adults 25 to 50 years old. It does skew a bit more female in the beginning, but we’re going after the male consumer as well.

BW: How did this product test with consumers? Any R&D/focus group findings you can share?
SS: We’ve done testing on it. It was a success in Europe and we did some extensive testing in the U.S. The idea scored in the top 20 percent of the concept-in-use test as we were going through [Nielsen’s new product sales forecasting technology] BASES. We knew we had an attractive idea. As we got more reactions around the product itself, even consumers who didn’t like the pulp in orange juice told us they liked Fruit2day. They liked the fresh fruit and the texture and the combination of drinking and chewing the fruit bits at the same time.

BW: Fruit2day’s suggested retail price is $3.79 for a two-pack. How are consumers responding to that price point, especially given the recession?
SS: Consumers’ purchasing behaviors have shifted a bit, but we are seeing a nice uptick in our purchase data from retailers, which indicates we are on track with where we need to be. We feel good about that. We’ve got a lot of growth opportunities still to come.

BW: TV spots show consumers discovering how whole fruit spoils easily in humorous ways. Why that creative execution?
SS: That came from consumer insight and a lot of consumer work before we launched, understanding people’s behavior around fruit and why is it that they don’t eat more fruit. [The campaign shows how] various whole fruits have inherent foibles: Bananas tend to bruise pretty easily, especially when you put it in your purse and all of a sudden, it gets bruised and battered from beating up on the Blackberry. Strawberries tend to spoil if they sit in the refrigerator too long, before you have a chance to cut them up and eat them. Peaches are another one that we identified that are really delicious—people love eating them—but eating one at work becomes a tough challenge because of its juiciness and you’re getting stuff all over your paperwork and desk. We found a humorous way of leveraging that insight around fruit and using it to introduce people to a whole new way of eating fruit.

BW: How big of an effort is this for the brand?

SS: It’s a full media and marketing campaign. Compared to the launches we have done as a company, we will be at strong media levels in this category of premium juices and the world of packaged cut fruit. We think we’ve got a really strong media level that will build awareness. That’s only one part of the campaign. The rest of the campaign is geared towards driving awareness and trial through a pretty extensive sampling effort. We’ve got word-of-mouth underway to build more awareness at a grassroots level among target consumers in the store and there’s also retail and promotional support.

[Television began on the 13, on VH1, Discovery Health and other networks. Print ads hit August books and online media has been running since June. Horizon Media, New York, handles media buying.]

BW: By how much do you expect the category to grow?
SS: The entire world of whole fruit is a $17 billion category. There is a huge world out there of people who consume fruit already. That part of it, the convenient juices and cut fruit category, that’s $700 million, maybe close to $1 billion in sales. As a category, it’s been growing quite nicely over the last couple of years, in the high-single to low double-digit range. We expect that kind of growth trajectory will continue given, as I mentioned before, the underlying macro consumer trends out there. People are looking to get more fruit in their diets in realistic, convenient ways. We have taken a peek at the world of bagged salads and that’s another category that, 10 to 12  years ago, didn’t even exist. Now it’s exploding because it’s meeting a very important need for consumers in their busy lives.

BW: So, which one’s your favorite?
SS: We’ve got four flavors, but the strawberry orange is the one that I personally like the best, but frankly, all of them have really good, unique, fresh tasting fruit in them. So far, what we’re seeing is they are all doing about the same in the market as consumers are trying all four varieties of them.