A theme I am writing about all semester is how businesses use social media to enhance their marketing strategy. I am now going to focus on how companies use social media to maximize a rebranding effort. One of the common complexities of our generation is brand loyalty. When Googling “Generation Y and Brand Loyalty” (Gen Y and Millennial are synonymous), some studies show that we are brand agnostic and completely different in our purchasing patterns than generations before us. However, more recent studies indicate we are, in fact, quite brand loyal when we are engaged in conversation with the brands we want to know about. As the article in Forbes mentioned, “understanding how Millennials engage through social media is one of the major challenges brands face.” After taking this class, I believe as we continue to move forward with an increasingly connected world, a company’s social media strategy will make or break their future success.
In another study by Concentric Marketing, 40% of Millennial respondents said they buy brands recommended by family and friends. One brand that has been in my family for years and I want to particularly focus on is Polar Beverages. Polar Beverages is a family-owned brand that was founded in 1882 and is based in Worcester, MA. They make seltzers, mixers, soda, and have recently expanded the brand into a new line called Polar Frost. One of their original products was seltzer water, and their innovation and creativity over the past few years, in conjunction with a fun and youthful social media strategy, has catapulted them to new heights.
I met with one of Polar Beverage’s brand mangers, Suev Pierri, earlier this year to learn more about the strategy behind the Polar Seltzer brand. A few years ago Polar struggled with sales to the Millennials because their brand perception indicated they felt Polar represented “my grandmother’s tonic water.” Yet with Millennials increasingly concerned about the negative health implications of soda, combined with their desire not to drink plain old water all the time, Polar recognized an opportunity. They decided to completely change their branding strategy to increase appeal to Gen Y.
One way to alter Millennial’s brand perception was to revamp the packaging.
Another way Polar improved their strategy was to create product extensions, particularly seasonal ones. This past summer, they offered products such as Cucumber Melon, Pomegranate Sangria, and Mint Mojito.
For the holidays, they released flavors such as Champagne Strawberry, Fudge Cheesecake, and Toasted Coconut. All of these seltzers are sugar and calorie free. Apparently they have some mad scientist over there that creates all these delicious products, because as someone who hates anything that tastes “fake,” these are all amazing.
The last part of Polar’s rebranding effort was to completely relaunch their website (I wish you could have seen the previous one – it was pretty basic), create a website solely dedicated to Polar Seltzer, and engage with their customers through Facebook and Twitter. Polar understands the power of replying, retweeting, and liking comments to further promote their brand.
With all their unique seltzer flavors, they reinvigorated the brand to be more youthful. They are constantly posting or promoting their customer’s posts on drink recipes (including alcoholic drinks), and many customers are just so excited by their seasonal options that they tweet their joy to Polar Seltzer.
Since Polar Seltzer is also calorie free, sodium free, and naturally flavored (there are no fake sweeteners), they also try and promote that it’s a healthier option. Most of their featured cocktail recipes tout the lower calories by substituting juice or soda with flavored seltzer water, and they even feature nutritionists consuming their products. It’s tough to read, but the caption says “The best endorsement you can probably get is when someone serves your product to their family.”
The most exciting aspect of Polar’s rebranding strategy is their geographical growth. For many years, Polar products were only available in New England. After living in DC for many years, Polar products were extremely difficult to find. Yet through Twitter and Facebook, people are able to continually express their desire to have Polar products sold in their local stores. As a result, Polar continues to expand down the east coast and hopes to further their growth strategy.
Polar Beverages and Polar Seltzer is an excellent model of how to use social media to promote rebranding and build brand loyalty. They understand that success among the Millennials requires constant contact, innovative products, and a brand centered on fun and enjoying life.
Do you have any brands that you are particularly loyal to? Would you say your brand loyalty increased after following a particular brand on social media?
If you have not gone out and tried any Polar Seltzers, I know you can find them at CVS, including the holiday flavors. They’re life changing!