For Innocent, 2015 was a year of innovation. Besides launching its own coconut water and its refreshment drink Bubbles, the brand has also added a new range of fruit and veg coldpress juices to its portfolio.

According to Helen Pomphrey, the brand’s UK head of marketing, it was a deliberate move to “launch products that really stretched the spectrum of health and wellness”.

To support this new focus, a TV campaign is launching this week showcasing its range of ‘super smoothies’, which include fruit, vegetables and seeds. This will be supported by digital, in-store activation and sampling, running for the first two months of the year.

Sugar debate is ‘confusing customers’

Pomphrey, however, is keen to emphasise that amid the current debate around sugar its original fruit smoothies are very much a healthy option.

She told Marketing Week: “I think the negative PR that has gone out around smoothies has been confusing for consumers. It’s not particularly helpful that drinking a smoothie has been compared to eating three donuts when the nutritional content of both are completely different.

“If you help consumers understand that these [smoothies] are just pure fruit and nothing else, they understand it. But you do have to explain that to them.”

However, she admits that the brand has seen a shift in people’s palettes over time: “While consumers have been used to a sweet smoothie taste, they are becoming more accepting of something a bit more savoury. That‘s something that will develop over time.”

Bringing veg juices to the masses

In response to people’s changing habits, the brand launched a variety of fruit and vegetable juices. To get consumers on board, Pomphrey says taste is at the forefront of its innovations.

“When you want to launch products such as these at scale, you have to be very careful about which ingredients you use and how you blend them. Veg does put some people off, so you need to reassure people that they taste great,” she explained.

As a result, sampling will become a bigger focus for the brand in 2016, with Pomphrey stating that she is keen to use the method “in an interesting and engaging way”, whether it’s through in-store activations or the use of bloggers and vloggers.

She commented: “We have launched so many new products now. And taste is important to people, so getting the product into people’s hands and trying it is vital. Creating word of mouth is something that we really want to focus on.”

Meeting the needs of younger drinkers

The brand is also keen to appeal to a more youthful audience who might not have “grown up with the brand”.

“What we’re tending to see at category level is that older shoppers are dropping out of the category, so we’re especially keen to recruit younger shoppers and families, not just through our existing ranges but through innovations,” she said.

“When you talk to younger people to find out what they want from brands, we meet a lot of those needs. For example, we do our business sustainably, we give 10% of our profits to charity – we’re a brand that cares and has a personality. But there are a lot of others brands out there doing the same thing, so we need to remind people that it’s something that we’ve always done and that we continue to do.”

To reach these younger consumers, the brand is launching its Innocent University Angels programme, which will seek to recruit brand ambassadors across 21 universities.

She concluded: “We had a small trial in 2015 but we’re doing a big push this year. They’ll be representing the brand and telling our story through sampling with the younger generation.”