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