Being second can be best: Innocent vs. PJ’s smoothies

The first brand to market always wins, right? Well, not always… as the story of the UK smoothie market shows.

The first brand was called Pete & Johnny’s, and was launched in 1994. innocent did not arrive until 4 years later in 1998. And the market shares today?
innocent: 72% (+9% pts vs. year ago)
Pete & Johnny’s: 13% (-6% pts vs. year ago)

Digging into this story reveals a ton of good stuff about brand growth….

1. Great brands have a great story
Pete & Johnny were fictional characters. Though the inspiration might have been Ben & Jerry’s, the comparison is not really valid, as the story they had to tell was much, much weaker. Contrast this with innocent, who have a great story about the founders, their company, their values.

The lack of real story behind Pete & Johnny’s is reflected in the decision to shorten the name to PJ’s in 2002. The CEO at the time said "This will  help consumers make quicker decisions at the fixture." However, that never seemed to be a problem for Ben & Jerry’s…you can’t imagine them changing to "B&J’s", because the name was based on a truth about the founders.

2. Consistency pays off.
Interestingly innocent started pulling ahead of PJ’s in 2004. Before then they were neck and neck. During these last 4 years innocent have been incredibly consistent, adding layer after layer to their brand story.

In contrast, PJ’s have been through 2 design changes in this time. The first change made the brand look more modern and clean. The next one tried to make the brand look all funky and cool. The result is consumers asking "what are you?".. "who are you?".. "where are you?". At least it was good for design agency Landor, as they did both the re-designs!


3. Wave after wave of innovation
innocent have never stopped
innovating on their core business. Product and pack stuff they have
done includes 1L tetrapacks, seasonal versions and kids’ smoothies.
They have also innovated in marketing with the innocent foundation,
brand-led promotions like "Buy one get one tree" and events like
Fruitstock (more on 100 little things innocent do here). In contrast,
PJ’s don’t seem to have done much at all.

4. Being bought by the big boys don’t always help
What makes innocent’s rise since 2004 all the more impressive is that PJ’s was bought by Pepsi in 2005. At the time you might have though innocent were in for trouble, as PJ’s would benefit from Pepsi’s muscle and distribution power. But the opposite has happened.

innocent is a private stand-alone company, 100% focused on smoothies. PJ’s is a small brand in a huge drinks portfolio, dwarfed by Tropicana. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just re-brand the smoothies Tropicana and ditch PJ’s altogether, even though Tropicana tried and failed to enter the market a few years ago.

So, being second can be best. As long as you’re the best.