Juicy marketing in the fruit juice industry

Fruchtsäfte mit unterschiedlichem Obst
Foto: © unsplash.com / Jugosloco

Sugar-free, low-carb, fructose-intolerance, gluten-free, self-optimization – these are the buzzwords of the latest diet trends among millennials and GenZs. This certainly doesn’t bode well for a juice comeback! Simultaneously, a product’s region of origin, whether it contains vitamins, whether it is homemade, “craft,” organic and vegetarian or vegan are all becoming increasingly important. And these are equally relevant for juices. The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, which have maximized home consumption, home delivery, home everything, have also seemingly led to an interim juice beverage recovery. Will it last, or is it temporary?

The discovery of pasteurization by Louis Pasteur in 1860 made it possible to manufacture fruit juice that could be kept for extended periods of time. Since then, juice has been firmly rooted in Germany’s cultural values. In Germany, juice became just as much of a staple as milk. However, the two world wars and their supply bottlenecks briefly interrupted this trend.

The golden age of juice

After World War 2, it took until 1954 for German citizens to return to pre-war nutritional standards. Tropical fruits and fresh vegetables were crucial here. On average, consumption grew by 55% as compared to 1935-1938. After the “thrill of liberation,” the German people also turned to “juicier” delights. Instead of beer and schnapps, they consumed ever more wine and fruit juice. The 1970’s was the final hurrah for an uninhibited food and drink culture in the fruit juice industry. This was characterized by the wartime generation’s need to catch up. Then, in the 1980s, a strong awareness for ecology and health developed. For example, note the first fitness wave which carried aerobics all the way from the U.S. over to Germany.

After the end of the war, juice made snacking healthy again. One group that advertised this was nimm2-Bonbons, which jumped on the juice bandwagon in 1962 and publicized “fruit juice, vitamins and a snack” all in one. We can thank the EU Health Claims Regulation for the fact that such claims from the Hohes C brand are unthinkable today. That said, who can’t help but chuckle when they think back to the advertising slogan, “Milch macht müde Männer munter” (roughly: “milk makes moody men merry”). This was the West German dairy industry’s mantra for advertising milk in the 1950s. Later, on behalf of the Centrale Marketing-Gesellschaft der Deutschen Agrarwirtschaft (CMA), which was dissolved in 2009, this was shortened to the still well-known, “Die Milch macht’s” (roughly: “Milk makes it”).

Alte Milch Werbung
Photo: © brand-history.com / CMA Deutschland

At that time, juice consumption rose dramatically. The peak for juice arrived in the 1990s and 2000s, when juice was considered a convenient source of vitamins. The advertising claims of the fruit juice industry, such as the Hohes C brand (founded in 1958) also contributed to this. Their claims, such as “as much vitamin C as 4 pounds of oranges” and “if you care about your family’s health”, anchored the daily glass of juice as “a source of vitamin C for the whole family” and “as important as your daily bread”.

Despite declining consumption since the mid-2000s, Germans remain the world champions of per-capita juice consumption at around 30 liters. They’re followed closely by Norwegians in second place with 23.5 liters, and then Americans with 20.7 liters.

Today, if we Google “healthy juice,” the first hits indicate:“Juice from fruits such as oranges, pomegranates and chokeberries (aronias) are considered healthy. But in addition to antioxidants and vitamins, fruit juice can contain as much sugar as cola” (Search via Google, May 28, 2021). Even if juice isn’t just juice, consumers remain overwhelmed regarding juices’ different quality levels and positioning. Juice has lost significant credibility and relevance as a “vitamin boost.” This contributed to a considerable drop in per-capita consumption over the following years.

The era of millennials and self-optimizers: The fruit juice industry in crisis

The 2000s marked an age of new consumers comprising millennials (Gen Y) and Gen Zs. As compared to Gen X and babyboomers, single-use and plastic bottles gave way to the new normal of re-usable and glass bottles. In addition to less haulage, the self-optimizers of these new generations trended away from “bad” juice beverages and toward lighter, more health-conscious and sugar-reduced variants. And all of this without necessarily having to give up enjoying juice. But this trend was already underway around the turn of the millennium, as ready-mixed sparkling juice-water mixtures (especially apple juice) had already conquered the German beverage market. Moreover, the “German Schorle” became another typical German phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, the word dates back to the 18th Century, and the prevalent theory is that it comes from the Lower Bavarian word “Schurlemurle,” which described a mixed beverage made of wine and sparkling water.

The consumption of sparkling juice drinks is now declining again (-16.6% in food retail last year according to Nielsen). Yet this can’t be explained solely by the loss of catering trade related to the pandemic. Other factors include the demographic-related tendency of fewer young people liking soft drinks, as well as a surplus of alternative drinks. Nevertheless, individual brand products, such as fritz-spritz for sparkling juice drinks, and segments, such as still fruit juice drinks with 6-30% fruit content (+5.7% in 2020 in the food retail year according to Nielsen), are benefiting, as are “light” variants in general (low-calorie lemonades and fruit juice drinks).

Saft und Saftschorlen
Photo: © pexels.com / Susanne Jutzeler

The “healthy” (less-sweet) lemonades segment is essential in this context. In contrast to the general trend, these are slightly on the rise. Having been founded by Bionade, the triumph of this segment has recently continued with other brands after the 2006 World Cup in Germany. After a dry spot and orientation period, Bionade could participate in this trend again. But only after the millennials who watched the World Cup grew up and had families of their own to consume Bionade with new alternative varieties, naturalness and a positioning toward biodiversity (bee protection).

Lemonade is continuing to trend toward less sugar and more enjoyment. This is underlined by brands such as fritz, Proviant and Lemonaid, as well as organic lemonades such as Now, Happy, Ände and more being the new generation of natural juice lemonades in the fruit juice industry. These boast attributes like 100% natural ingredients, lower sugar content and regional (organic) origin. They are also family-friendly alternatives to conventional category-favorites like “Die Limo” from Granini. In addition, these “light” products line up with the fitness and health priorities of Gen Z, who are paying increased attention to external appearances and follow influencers such as Pamela Reif and Sophia Thiel on platforms like Instagram. The sweet sugar bomb of juice no longer fits into this generation’s worldview.

Juice offers “natural variety” and enjoyment!

Thankfully, the image of juice has somewhat improved. Despite its continuous decline, segments such as high-quality not-from-concentrate (NFC) juices and premium juices are becoming increasingly important. According to the German Fruit Juice Industry (VdF), chilled NFC juices achieved a growth of 11.4 % in 2020, while un-chilled achieved 5.3%. Likewise, the fruit juice industry market has continued developing here with chilled NFC juices from Valensina & Co and premium juice suppliers such as Van Nahmen. Following the tradition of Hohes C, Germany’s favorite remains orange juice (with a 34.5% share of the total market), followed by apple juice with 27.8% and multivitamin with 14.2%.

The past year’s growth indicates less a potential renaissance of juice as a natural source of vitamins to boost the immune system, rather the changed living and eating habits caused by COVID-19. With people working from home and schools closed, breakfast is being eaten at home again, and the smoothie-to-go breakfast has been replaced by a glass of healthy juice at the breakfast table or in front of the computer.

Various anchors can boost the juice category in the fruit juice industry for the sake of the future. For example, numerous psychodrama studies have revealed that consumers consider a product being regional as shorthand for taste, quality and sustainability, as well as for “psychological closeness” more than geographical proximity. Regional origin drives generations Y and Z not only because of a psychological “Robin Hood Syndrome” (the desire to support regional, “small” manufacturers), but also because it anchors the origin and the ideal of avoiding long transport routes. “Regional” is quickly becoming a synonym for “originating from a certain region”. Moreover, it makes a product such as a Spanish fair-trade orange juice from an agricultural cooperative morally superior to “industrial goods.” Organic certification strengthens these “reasons to believe.”

The “sommelier mindset” has already been extended successfully into other beverage categories. Single-origin juices offer new points of contact for focusing the juice category on increased enjoyment, as is already the case with Beckers-Bester and Gerolsteiner and its single-origin sparkling apple drinks. As ambassadors and multipliers for good taste and authentic quality, juice sommeliers can help strengthen the generally positive perception of juice.

The fruit juice industry needs new contexts

Fresh opportunities are needed to help juice consumption become an intuitive, automatic solution again – just like back in the 1960s with the “daily sip of vitamins.” However, for the Gen Zs (born after 1995), in contrast to their parents’ generations, access to juice is not “socialized” and, therefore, not automatic. Rather, juices must work their way to the new consumers first. In the “Instagram Generation,” the real and the virtual have merged into a natural reality. This means that forgotten products need (new) presentation that is social-media ready.

Exotic fruit mixtures, for example, enrich the escapist experience trend. Therefore, it is unsurprising that high-quality and varied juice mixtures and non-alcoholic, pre-made cocktails, such as those from Granini and Voelkel, showed growth in the last year. Exciting juice creations could also cause excitement in the more “rational” vegetable juice segment. Ultimately, there are many ways to help “boring” or less inviting vegetables, such as cucumbers, gain new appeal beyond sugar discussions in innovative juice creations made of fruits and vegetables. Gen Z is continually curious.

Photo: © Sachon Verlag

At the same time, the detox area is on the upswing thanks to self-optimization and “doing good for the gut.” Like tea, juice cleanses have long been a staple of home remedies. However, last year’s best-sellers were not products named “juice cleanse”, rather vitamin-rich shots based on ginger and turmeric for daily well-being and the “extra vitamin and energy boost.” The small start-up Kloster Kitchen from Hersbrucker, the German Innovation Award ’21 Winner, is drawing attention in this area. Advertising statements such as “boost your morning routine” intuitively provide consumers with the context for how to use the shots. Moreover, there is successful storytelling with claims like “valuable knowledge of a traditional recipe from the monastery kitchen.”

Context concepts such as these are also used by Beckers Bester and the Rotbäckchen brand – two of the most successful fruit juice industry brands in recent years.

Of course, taste isn’t the only sense that needs to be enticed – juice can’t be successful without a good-looking container, too. Longtime followers of PET material, Valensina, added reusable glass to their repertoire last year. Furthermore, many other fruit juice industry brand manufacturers are accordingly expanding their range. Smaller, more convenient containers or cans are also interesting for younger, adventure-hungry consumers. These offer a stylish projection screen for enjoying party-ready, light and sparkling juice both at home and on the go. Ultimately, the challenge for fruit juice industry marketing lies in placing brands with strong and concise branding within an attractive context of the everyday lives of consumers. Possible positioning anchors continue to be regional and sustainable framing, but storytelling is crucial here. Social media-compatible staging is now a must-have for lively brand-to-person relationships and an indispensable aspect of drawing attention to new creations and trends through influencer marketing.

Would you like to find out about current trends on the beverage market and exchange professional information? Then we invite you to take part in the next drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 12 to 16, 2022.

This article is powered by Verlag W. Sachon.

Verlag W. Sachon

The publishing house W. Sachon, headquartered at Mindelburg Castle, publishes nine established trade journals that regularly provide their readers with exciting and interesting information. The emphasis lies in the brewing and beverage industry. The specialized publications are published in German, English, Spanish and Mandarin. A national and an international newsletter as well as an SMS Executive Flash complete the print offer digitally.