- Craft soda maker Jones Soda is trying to make a comeback through marketing and e-commerce.
- It’s doing paid social ads for the first time and using influencers to appeal to Gen Z.
- The strategy is starting to pay off, with revenue up in each of the past three quarters.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Jones Soda cemented itself in the ’90s among teens, skateboarders, and tattoo enthusiasts with its neon-colored drinks and oddball limited-edition flavors like Bugjuice and Turkey & Gravy.
But the craft soda maker had fallen flat in recent years, with the company cycling through six CEOs in 13 years and its sales sliding from $45.3 million in 2007 to $11.5 million in 2019.
Now, the 25-year-old-company is trying to revive itself under new CEO Mark Murray, a CPG vet of companies including Campbell Soup and Kraft Foods, through its marketing and e-commerce, among other measures.
The strategy seems to be working, with the company growing revenue by as much as 17% year-over-year in each of the past three quarters after six straight quarters of declines, according to its earnings reports.
Jones Soda continues to use the user-generated labels and holiday packs it’s known for, but has updated them to appeal to Gen Z.
This month, it’s putting augmented reality labels on its bottles, which users can scan to see videos of influencers doing things like skateboarding and surfing. Last year, the company used its labels to crowdsource messages of hope in the pandemic and get influencers to encourage voter registration.
“Jones with its bright colors and fun flavors has always been about self-expression, which remains true today as well,” said Maisie Antoinello, its VP of marketing. “Using the labels as a driver works because nostalgia is a universal truth that’s both timely and timeless.”
It also continues to use guerrilla marketing and sponsor athletes, recently enlisting professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and his family to document a road trip in a branded RV on social media.
The company isn’t just relying on proven tactics, though. It expects to double its sales and marketing this year from 2019, when it spent $2.4 million, and it’s using paid social advertising for the first time, mostly on Facebook and Instagram, along with search and email marketing, Murray said.
“We want to be sure we’re targeting the right people — and those are the most sophisticated platforms to do that,” he said.
The company is also using marketing to drive people to buy from its website, where it sells custom labels and flavors for special events. Its efforts have grown e-commerce sales 20% increase in the past month over the previous month, Antoinello said.
And in June, the company also reached deals to sell its product in 1,800 Krogers and 400 7-Elevens, after avoiding big box chains in favor of skate and snowboard shops, tattoo and piercing parlors, and music stores for years.
People are cutting back on sugary, fizzy drinks, and beverage giants like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are broadening their portfolios. But Murray think Jones Soda can still expand its market share in craft sodas, since the category is growing even as soda declines overall. The company is also catering to changing tastes with new sugar-free lines and products like Lemoncocco and testing CBD-infused products.
“We’re going to stay in our lane and stay in the craft soda business,” he said. “We’re looking at growing the company substantially over the next three years and getting back to a certain level of profitability.”
Business News Governmental News Finance News
Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.