THE BATTLE OF THE TABLE
Try to visualize this for a moment: an independent teenager, aiming to give the impression of being irreverent and careless, walks down the street listening to music with an icy can of a soft drink in his hand. This could be the stereotyped key visual of an ad for Coke or Pepsi, couldn’t it?
Well, back to the current reality of the Argentinian market, I bet you won’t easily find any ad like this for Coke nor for any other soft drink in the frenetic, hectic and multiscreen media environment.
The numbers speak for themselves: off- trade channels account for 93% of soft drinks volume, and that explains why the companies are focusing their efforts on in-home consumption. In order to increase revenues by selling more liters, major players have developed complex price-pack architectures, and launched bigger bottles. This is the case with Danone’s Villa del Sur Levite?, that pushed 2.25 liters bottles instead of the traditional 1.5lt pack. This is great news for a savvy consumer who looks for the best deal, because this change in the bottle size means a higher out of pocket, but a lower price per liter.
From the communication perspective, it’s one thing to develop formats targeted to social occasions, but creating advertising platforms to win the battle of everyday lunches and dinners is a totally different story. Forget about the celebrities, forget about the epic music and the majestic scenery! Now is the time of ordinary people, sharing an ordinary meal in a middle-class living room, with a large bottle of something colorful and tasty on the table.
Sounds dull? Definitely not! The resource that most of the companies have chosen to stand out and gain differentiation is humor: a wide variety of jokes and funny situations that everyone can relate to.
EARNING THEIR PLACE
I could give you lots of different examples, but I’d like to highlight the ones that best identify a distinctive insight:
- We by Ser, a non-sugar flavored water brand managed by Danone, launched the campaign “The angel of the tables” under the claim “tables have changed”. The idea is that in every group of young-adult friends, you can find someone with very special preferences, so disagreements become a special ingredient of each meeting. H2Oh!, Pepsico’s flagship in the flavored water market is adopting a similar strategy: they developed a campaign (Silver Effie Award in 2014) in which a very particular member of a conservative family causes trouble in his attempt to bring new flavors of H2oh! to the table.
- Coca-Cola has been working hard with a “Meals” platform for a couple of years. The last campaign shows a rebel rocker girl sitting at the table complaining about her family. Then her mom brings her an electric-guitar shaped fried egg and changes her mood, helping her to recognize that in the end family is really important to her, but in a witty way.
- Tang, the leader of powder juices, was challenged by the presence of new players and substitutes on the table. With “La mesa de Lucas” (Lucas’ table) campaign, Mondelez’s brand tried to reinstate the role of the kids during lunch or dinner, since they are the ones who bring joy to the table. Thanks to a creative game, Lucas turns a dull moment into an interactive and dynamic one, changing the mood of the family. Tang’s main competitor, the local brand Arcor, is also attacking the table but a with more edgy approach, using an acid humor that focuses on the conflicts that arise between the father and his mother-in-law every time they sit at the table.
To sum up, although many players may look for ways to increase their presence during meals so they can gain market share, not all of them will be victorious in the battle of the table. It is necessary to convey relevant messages to meet the needs of a more demanding consumer, while commanding a fast pace of innovation in order to maintain differentiation. And, as everyone knows, winning a battle doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win the war...