When Coca-Cola France set out to launch a new product on the market, carbonated soft drinks accounted for only 10% of the beverages consumed by French adults - around 50% less than in other similar European markets.
The product developers determined why this was the case - French adults are highly discerning about the origin and quality of ingredients, see soft drinks as sugar-loaded and unhealthy and don't appreciate the flavour options available that appeal more to children - and began brainstorming.
“We took these three intrinsic elements—the sophistication in taste, the calorie limit and the proof of naturalness—and began the R&D process,” said Celine Bouvier, marketing director at Coca-Cola France.
The result of this process was Finley, a fruity, low-calorie carbonated soft drink containing fruit juice, natural flavours, sugar and stevia, and Nieslen's top pick for innovative packaging and branding in 2016.
Launched in bottles and cans, the drink used exotic, lesser-known flavours with bitter notes that appeal to adult palates, such as elderflower, cranberry and tonic, and finer bubbles more akin to champagne rather than typical soft drinks
“In-store materials were designed with the brand’s elegant, urban look and dark colour scheme, and sampling booths evoked a bar-like atmosphere to bring the product’s ‘adult’ essence to life,” write the Nieslen analysts.
First-year sales topped €7.5 million and rose 17% to €8.8 million in the second year. In 2016 the brand grew by an impressive 45%.
Nielsen’s verdict: “Finley demonstrates how demand-drive innovation can beget big opportunities in some of the most unlikely categories.”