Honeydew pegs future on U.S. sales

Everyone's heard the clichés before. 'We're living today in a world without borders.' 'There is no such thing as a Canadian company anymore.' 'The whole world is our marketplace now.' But what, exactly, does all of this mean in terms of...

Everyone’s heard the clichés before.

‘We’re living today in a world without borders.’ ‘There is no such thing as a Canadian company anymore.’ ‘The whole world is our marketplace now.’

But what, exactly, does all of this mean in terms of concrete, day-to-day reality? What do Canadian firms go through in the effort to market their products and services internationally? How do they build brands on a global basis? What are the challenges – and the rewards?

For this special report, Strategy’s writers profile the global marketing activities of several noteworthy Canadian companies.

For Honeydew Canada, the international marketplace tastes very sweet indeed.

Four years ago, the Mississauga, Ont.-based juice company took a long, hard look at the Canadian market, and concluded that growth opportunities were limited here. So the 78-year-old firm began to turn its attention south of the border.

Today, there’s no question that Honeydew’s future lies stateside, says Stu Funnell, the company’s president and part owner.

Honeydew began exporting its frozen fruit juice blends to the U.S. in 1996, with considerable success. American sales now represent close to 50% of the company’s revenues – and this despite aggressive competition from the likes of Coca-Cola-owned Minute Maid and Cadbury Schweppes-owned Welch’s (not to mention the general decline of the US$1.2 billion North American frozen fruit juice category).

Made with pure fruit juices and natural honey – a major selling point in the U.S. market, Funnell says – Honeydew’s products come in nine flavours, including Mango Passion Papaya, Strawberry Kiwi and Grape Blueberry.

Distribution is primarily in the central and eastern U.S., where the product is sold through such chains as Shaws, Price Chopper, A&P and Sam’s Club.

While the western states offer a tempting target – and the company does currently ship into Phoenix, Ariz. and Salt Lake City, Utah – Funnell says most of Honeydew’s efforts will be concentrated in the east for the time being.

‘Our objective, before we go crazy in the U.S., is to solidify the brand east of the Mississippi,’ he says. ‘Once that’s done, then we’ll move west.’

To strengthen the brand and help distinguish it from rivals, Honeydew repackaged its juices last year, adding vibrant stripes to the containers, enhancing the imagery and updating the 78-year-old honeybee icon. A new pull-ring feature, designed to make the lid easier to remove, was also added to the packaging for the U.S. market.

Toronto-based Wolf Group works with Honeydew on advertising and marketing for both the U.S. and Canadian markets. In-store materials such as shelf danglers and point-of-sale displays, Funnell says, are key promotional vehicles. The company has also run sweepstakes programs on its Web site (www.hdew.com) to help build customer relationships and generate feedback.

‘We’re not a huge company like McCain or Minute Maid,’ Funnell says. ‘We don’t have the kinds of funds they do, so we have to become much more tactical and street-smart about the way we spend money.’

While the move into the American market has been a relatively smooth process, Honeydew has encountered certain obstacles along the way.

U.S. regulations, for example, impose a whole different set of packaging requirements involving ingredient lists and nutrition guides, forcing Honeydew to create new packaging for the American market. The company now has two separate inventories – one for the U.S., and one for Canada.

Also in this report:

- Tim Hortons issues wakeup call: Builds underdeveloped breakfast category p.25

- Faces adapts to local market: Cosmetics retailer leverages awareness of cultural differences p.25

- Buckley’s takes bad taste message abroad: Cough syrup marketer making steady inroads in U.S. and overseas p.27

- Great Canadian Bagel makes slow but sure gains in Moscow p.27

- Southbrook Farms and Winery proves its worth abroad: Ontario winemaker uses foreign success to boost sales at home p.28

- Seagull Pewter sells at shows: Family-run giftware operation does business in over 20 territories p.28

- Clearly Canadian launches in U.S. first p.28

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.