Do you really respect your competition?

I posted back in September about the launch of Drench, a new lifestyle water that aimed to target the yoof market. My concerns at the time were i) it was trying too hard to be cool, when what young people want are iconic brands with real status, ii) it lacked a real product-based point of difference.

Well, if recent reports are anything to go by (Marketing, 9 May 2007) it has not exactly given Volvic (£215 million in sales) and Evian (£140 million in sales) much to worry about, as it has achieved sales of only £1.4 million (Source: Euromonitor). Parent company Britvic are re-launching it with £2.4 million of support. At least they are improving the pack to make it easier to grip, and adding a sports cap. But, it still leaves you asking "Where’s the sausage?"!

This story got me thinking about how so often companies don’t respect the competition enough. Its a form of "brand ego trip", where they are too focused on what the market can do for them, rather than what they can do for the market. Sure, water is a big and growing market. But where is the substance and real product differentiation that earns the right to step into the ring with brands like Evian and Volvic, that have  a product story to tell? And this is not just about having what it takes to start the fight with the big boys. You have to be ready for a long-term competition which is costly, as Britvic are finding out. I also posted recently on innocent’s ambition for water, and raised the same questions.

My prediction? Drench won’t be here in a year’s time.