In a recent banter of email correspondence, some friends and colleages of mine began discussing the mystery of what makes Jones Soda so cool.
It was all started by a selfish attempt to get people that I knew to vote on a photo I submitted to Jones via their web site gallery. The general public can vote on photos on a 1 to 10 scale and the photo (based on staff picks and votes) can end up on the front of a Jones Soda bottle.
Here is a selection of the discussion that arose from my mass-email attempt:
What I sent:
Sorry for the mass email...
I decided to submit a photo to Jones Soda to get it on their drinkies.
If you don't know about Jones, they're a really cool company up here in Seattle. You can submit photos that other people can vote on to have on a shipment of soda or not... or you can just order a 12-pack of a custom label for like $35.
I wanted to see if I could get one voted on to a label though, so I chose a picture of my dog, Boaz. So, get out and vote for Boaz!! Just go to www.jonessoda.com/gallery and type in "Boaz" in the "Search For" field box.
Then Scott Miller decided to click the "reply all" button and sent out this comment:
What's cool about Jones Soda!? Other than they use odd pictures, what's the big deal? They still use the same big crap-ola ingredients (e.g. high-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient far more unhealthy than cane sugar) as the big soda boys, so I do not see the coolness of this brand. A cool brand would be concerned about the people they serve, rather than be nothing but empty marketing hoopla.
Do people actually fall for this stuff!?
Some replies to Scott's comments:
I think the appeal is in drinking a bottle of funky soda, instead of the same old pepsi or coke. I haven't read the book, but I think it could be a "Trading Up" idea for the consumer. You can't get Jones soda out of a vending machine or a fountain machine. You can't buy it in huge quantities from a place like Wal-mart. It almost never goes on sale and demands a premium price all the time. So when the consumer goes into a place like Starbucks and asks for a "coke" and all the soda they have is Jones then I think people will buy it and think they are special because it's not coke even though the ingredients may be the same. They also offer the consumer new and exciting flavors not available from coke or pepsi. For example: Turkey and Gravy, Lemon Drop, Green Apple, etc. People love the sugary taste of sodas but often get bored with the same old flavors and Jones offers an alternative. I think the pictures appeal to those weird collector type people who go to Burger King and buy all the spongebob squarepants watches. I don't pretend to understand those people, but it gives Jones the advantage of releasing new bottle designs all the time for people like that who collect the labels.
Just my humble opinion.
Boaz on the bottle will make me drink one.
And then here's another reply from me:
I'd have to agree with John in that the appeal is individualism.
However, other than offering different flavors, they are by no means offering a healthy alternative to the others. But I think that what they do have is somewhat sufficient to build a pseudo-brand. I wouldn't go on to bet the farm on their long-term success, but they definitely have something that gets attention... at least for now.
They also have a patent on their online custom ordering, which they have licensed to Nike. That's a great piece of IP to have, but may only be a temporary benefit.
Any other Jones junkies out there? What else makes this a viable (or not-so, if you think that's the case) brand in today's market place?
Oh... how silly of me. If you would like to VOTE FOR BOAZ, go here. Make sure you vote him a 10! Here's a preview of the photo...
Here's some additional information I received about Jones...
Jones reduced carbs in half ahead of anyone else. They didn't create some slick new name or package (like Coke's C2) and spend a jillion dollars marketing it. Nor did they pound drums when they went to Splenda, a sugar based artificial sweeter.
Jones doesn't believe that anyone should drink a "big gulp" of anything.
Moderation is part of their brand gestalt. That's why you don't see two liter bottles or "super sized" cups at a burger joint.
Jones does more for communities, as a percentage of sales, than any of the big companies.
Neither Coke or Pepsi has a Fufu Berry or Strawberry Lime in their product line up, much less Green Bean Casserole Soda for Thanksgiving. Jones is having fun while the other soda brands just fill
up their trucks with the same old stuff. Jones never stops innovating.
Jones is a great example of next generation marketer, mixing technology (packaging, custom manufacturing, killer website) with young-at-heart inspiration and never-ending innovation. Any brand could learn something from this little soda company
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Jones Soda is perfect example of a product being able to compete in a dominated market by tilting the field and changing the game.
Coke and Pepsi may own more of the market -- but at a reduced price. They can't go back and reposition their product at the higher price point because they've spent decades in their own little cola wars.
Excellent positioning by the upstart!
Posted by: Don The Idea Guy | Dec 4, 2004 5:57:50 PM
I gave Boaz a 10 ;)
Sodas = 90% marketing and 10% product.
Posted by: Tammy | Dec 7, 2004 9:26:12 AM
Being a health advocate and practitioner, I guess it boils down to the simple fact that all sodas are seriously unhealthy, and part of the reason 30% of American's are medically obese, and 80% have significantly too much bodyfat (over 13% for men and 20% for women).
There are ways to make soda less unhealthy, and one is to not use high-fructose corn syrup (only used by soda companies because it's a lot cheaper than real cane sugar, which they used to use before the 70's), and also not to use certain artificial sweeteners proven to be damaging, such as Splenda and Nutrasweet. (Sweet N Low, is much healthier as it has no reported side effects in its 100+ years of use, despite the scare in the mid-70's that it cause cancer in rats -- at 3000 times normal amounts! Any vitamin or mineral will kill you at that level, too.)
The bottom-line with these soda companies, just as with Fast food companies (other than In-n-Out) is that they care not a nickle about anyone's health, and are 100% profit driven.
Anyone who contributes to these companies is merely contributing to their own early death. But no biggie, these companies will have in their grasp your children and their children by then. Enjoy.
Posted by: Scott Miller | Dec 7, 2004 3:25:46 PM
"Jones doesn't believe that anyone should drink a "big gulp" of anything."
Which is why I'm sure they insist that no one drinks more than one bottle a day.
Because when I think about buying a drink, the first thing I think is "yeah, it may taste good, but do they have a killer website?"
"They [big companies] can't go back and reposition their product at the higher price point because they've spent decades in their own little cola wars."
Right, because they don't have the capital to create a whole new line of product, market it under a different brand (even sell it through a subsidiary company just for the purpose), and gain market share in the boutique soda market. Never happens.
"The bottom-line with these soda companies, just as with Fast food companies (other than In-n-Out) is that they care not a nickle about anyone's health, and are 100% profit driven."
Right Scott, that's why if we don't keep a sharp eye on these evil bastards, they'd slip poison into their product if they thought it would sell one more bottle. I'm glad I live in America, Scott, where they can choose to make whatever they want and I can choose to buy it, free from the furrow-browed nannies' interference (mostly).
Posted by: David Andersen | Dec 13, 2004 12:46:08 PM
I liked Jones so much I bout stock in it. Symbol JSDA got in at .25 and know its over 4.25! I think they are ripe for buyout from big player like Coke
Posted by: TOM TYSON | Jan 25, 2005 7:33:00 PM
But does Jones have longevity? Coke and Pepsi are the originals and no one has been able to crack them. I think if it remains smaller than its major competition it will do fine. It's like the art-film house down the street: It's different, but it will never replace Famous Players.
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