Ribena pins hopes on heritage to ‘future proof’ the brand

The 81-year-old juice brand is repositioning to focus on its heritage and appeal to an older audience as it looks to fight falling sales.

Ribena is launching a new creative platform in a bid to “future proof” the brand amid declining juice sales.

The 81-year-old juice brand is repositioning itself to focus on its heritage with a new tagline, ‘Blackcurrant Artistry since 1938’, which it hopes will make it more appealing to an older audience.

Charlotte Flook, head of Ribena at parent company Lucozade Ribena Suntory, tells Marketing Week: “We believe it is a future-proof platform for the brand. It hones in on everything consumers love about the brand and lands on our credentials and heritage but in a really modern and compelling way.”

This will be accompanied by a £6.2m marketing campaign which will run across TV, digital, social and outdoor.

The TV ad, created by agency Wunderman Thompson, shows a hipster ‘blackcurrant artist’ who explains his method behind making Ribena. As he tends to a blackcurrant field he tells the camera “blackcurrants are my paint, the field is my canvas”.

The tongue-in-cheek video is a self-aware nod to the brand’s craftsmanship, which Ribena hopes will show its heritage in a “modern” way.

“It’s important [to talk about heritage] as consumers are continuing to look for brands with purpose,” Flook explains. “There’s lots of brands that talk about their craft and their heritage but it’s about doing it in a way that is modern and relevant for the average consumer.”

The campaign spans Ribena’s range, including squash and cartons, while shifting the brand’s marketing focus from its ready-to-drink range to new innovations.

Bringing together in-house and agency

The brand has conducted extensive consumer testing on the campaign, which it says was crucial to avoid alienating core customers.

Flook explains: “We’re a massive brand and most of the UK loves Ribena. It’s making sure that the ad works for a really big group of people.”

READ MORE: Ribena repositions to reach young adult audience with ‘modern and relevant’ £6m campaign

Ribena relied heavily on its in-house agency, Technology Engagement and Design (TED), while developing the repositioning. TED also worked closely with Wunderman Thompson to “get the best out of the agency and in-house team”.

Dubbed the JWTED partnership, it saw Wunderman Thompson develop Ribena’s overall brand concept and TV ad, while TED led on most of the digital and in-store activation.

TED also often reviewed work prior to Ribena’s agency meetings. “Having another in-house lens definitely made sure that when we saw the work it made sense for the brand,” Flook says.

The partnership helped to created an “agile model”, which the brand “will continue to foster”.

TED has also had a positive effect on Ribena’s own creativity levels. Flook explains: “It’s extremely important that as marketers we remain creative and continue to source inspiration and ideation externally and having our TED creative team in-house has brought a brilliant level of creativity to the total marketing team.

“Having creative sat two doors down from us, makes sure that we continue to be creative, think differently and challenge ourselves.”

Is it the future of agency-brand relations? “There is no one size fits all [with in-housing], it really depends on what your business and what your brand needs are at the time and what you’re agency can offer,” says Flook.

Saving a declining category

Ribena hopes the new brand positioning will turn its declining sales, and the category as a whole, around.

Ribena’s sales have fallen 4% year on year, which is less than the juice category as a whole at 5.8%, according to the brand.

Does Ribena feel a sense of responsibility to help reverse juice’s decline? “Definitely. We’re still the number one juice brand in the UK but it is absolutely our role to ensure that we continue to drive growth for the category through building compelling brand campaigns and making sure we innovate to address consumers evolving needs,” says Flook.

Ribena is addressing those evolving needs through Ribena Frusion, which takes Ribena into the flavoured waters category for the first time.

The blackcurrant water is infused with other fruit and botanicals and will rival Coca-Cola’s Aquarius, as well as other still and sparkling healthy drink brands.

Frusion is already available in major retailers and will be supported by a separate TV ad next month.

“That older audience is looking for a healthier alternative,” Flook says. “They are looking at flavoured waters sparkling juice drinks and water in general and that’s why we’ve launched Frusion.”

Despite the challenges, Flook is optimistic: “The plan that we’ve got in place over the next three years is a really strong plan that should address consumers’ evolving needs while ensuring we grow the brand.”

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Comments
  • paul alexander 18 Apr 2019 at 8:17 am

    If memory serves, Ribena had a problem of a different kind in New Zealand and Australia — basically lying about its Vitamin C content — so it would be interesting to see this article reference that and show some of the facts related to the decline in market share as a result.

  • Ade Kujore 6 May 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Perhaps the brand suffered after reformulating its classic ‘with sugar’ formulation. Folk like sugar to taste like sugar. Should folk wish to dispense with sugar, then they have the option of the ‘sugar-free’ formulations.

  • Jenni Wares 26 May 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Taking a look on Ribena’s Facebook page, customers are furious about the new recipe Ribena which now contains sweeteners. Every post they make is inundated with negative comments about the new version. I’ve stopped buying it as I don’t like sweeteners and because the new recipe tastes disgusting. I imagine their sales have been hit rather dramatically since the change, is the figure since that change still only 4% decline? Pretty confident that figure is a lot higher!

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