Ribena brand has not run out of juice

Over the past few weeks, Ribena has enjoyed more than its fair share of publicity. Much of the coverage has been balanced but there has been the odd lapse where style has triumphed over substance. Perhaps the most striking example of this was your assertion that Ribena is a “brand on the ropes” (MW July 20).

The facts are clear. Over the past four years, ex-factory sales have increased by more than 44 per cent. In AC Nielsen’s review of the top 100 grocery brands, Ribena has risen from 29th to 11th. Household penetration of ready-to-drink Ribena has increased from 12.7 to 22 per cent. It is the number one still shot brand. For a mature brand in a highly-competitive market, this is a performance that most businesses would die for.

The success is not the result of “cavalier” marketing, as your reporter suggests, but a long-term strategy that has delivered great advertising and, in Ribena ToothKind, a landmark in soft drinks innovation.

This initiative, delivered from five years of research and protected by an international patent, has made a significant contribution to market growth and, more importantly, the serious issue of children’s dental health. Surely great marketing is all about firstly meeting a genuine consumer need and secondly building defensible and therefore long-term competitive advantage?

But we are not so arrogant as to believe we have nothing to learn. The natural consequence of an innovative culture is that mistakes can be made along the way. As for those agencies that do not want to work with us? In my tenure as marketing director, no agency has told me so. If the unnamed agencies to which you refer believe they can add value to our brands, I will be the first to listen to their “considered” view. I would submit that their first “consideration” should be that the Ribena brand is fighting fit for the future, not on the ropes, as your magazine suggests.

Peter Harding

Marketing director

SB Nutritional Healthcare

Brentford

Middlesex

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