Speaking at Zenith International’s recent UK Soft Drinks Conference, Innocent co-founder Richard Reed (pictured) said he anticipates the brand will probably attempt to crack Latin America using Coke’s marketing muscle, before launching in the US.
(The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) waved through the agreement between Innocent (Fresh Trading Limited) and The Coca-Cola Company on May 1, with Coke taking its stake-holding up to 100%, despite some category overlap in still drinks supply.)
And Reed said that smoothie, juice, nectar and still drinks maker Innocent will look to grow further in Europe before going global, noting heavy investment worldwide to register the Innocent trademark.
But he added that the firm already plans to utilise the global marketing power and distribution channels of parent The Coca-Cola Company to gain a strong foothold in outside of Europe - in the hope of one day being “the biggest small drinks company in the world”.
Reed said the brand has aspirations to launch in Asia, Africa and Latin America in the coming years, before moving in to North America “at some point”.
Dubai, Mumbai and Shanghai…
"I want Innocent one day to be available in Dubai, Mumbai and Shanghai," Reed said. "I like saying that because it rhymes, but it is a serious point."’
"My thought would be that we will be in Latin America before we are in North America and that is purely because there are more established juice brands in North America," he added.
Discussing possible avenues for expansion, Reed suggested that Innocent, who are now 90% owned by global soft drinks giant Coca-Cola, are eyeing-up the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janiero as a target for expansion in The Americas.
"Our five year goal is to become Europe's favourite little juice company," said Reed. "By that I mean No.1 in terms of market sales, and also No.1 in terms of trust and consumer loyalty.
"But we have a 20 year goal to become the Earth's favourite little healthy drinks company," he said.
Future Minute Maid supplier?
Reed said Innocent had always aspired to be internationally available, whilst continuing to be "synonymous with taste, health, and ethics."
"I know there is an opportunity for that in every market – it's not just a European thing. It’s a truly international thing,” he said.
As a result, Reed noted that Innocent has spent 'a lot of money' to register their trademark "in every country pretty much across the world."
"So yes we do aspire to be there - in Latin America, in Asia, Africa, and North America too."
Reed said that Innocent's relationship with Coca-Cola will help the firm to achieve its international aspirations - and suggested that Innocent may even look to supply Coca-Cola's Minute-Maid juice in the “long term”.
‘Our strongest market share is in Austria…’
Pursuing international expansion in the past, Reed said Innocent had stuck to the successful UK launch strategy, rolling-out in smaller independent outlets and brand building before approaching larger supermarket chains. But he now concedes this approach was mistaken.
The firm’s last issued UK-filed company accounts for the year ending December 31 2011 show a post-tax loss of £10.4m on a £162.6m turnover, with Innocent attributing the loss (in part) to planned investments in European subsidiaries.
"We got the model wrong in the early days for some countries. We just slightly misunderstood the market and we missed the bigger picture," he told BeverageDaily.com.
"We used to tell ourselves that you can't launch into big supermarkets - you need to build the brand up outside of the supermarkets first,” Reed added, but Innocent was by then a recognized brand.
"It's so obvious to us now, and I sound stupid saying it. But, of course, if you can launch straight to a supermarket then that's great. You want to get your product in front of as many people as possible,” he said.
"Some of the countries where we launched from Day One in the supermarkets – it's gone brilliantly well," said Innocent’s co-founder.
"What we now think is the best way to do it is both with the supermarkets and the independent trade. Our strongest market share is in Austria, where we launched straight into supermarkets."