Jones turns on the juice

Synopsis: Urban Juice & Soda, Vancouver, which sells soft drinks under the funky Jones Soda label, takes its grassroots initiative marketing strategy into cyberspace when it relaunches its Web site, www.jonessoda.com. The purpose of the portal is to build an online...

Synopsis: Urban Juice & Soda, Vancouver, which sells soft drinks under the funky Jones Soda label, takes its grassroots initiative marketing strategy into cyberspace when it relaunches its Web site, www.jonessoda.com. The purpose of the portal is to build an online community by enabling customers to contribute to content, much like the firm already lets them design its distinctive bottle labels. According to founder and president Peter van Stolk, the company’s success is

supported by its close relationship with the consumer, both on and off the site, which has more than 45,000 unique visitors per month. Consumers respond to the brand because their work and voice are acknowledged on every bottle, says van Stolk, who hopes to apply the same philosophy to the site. The existence of the Web site is bolstered only by the presence of the URL on Jones Soda bottle labels.

One year later: Encouraged by a successful year – net sales climbed 72% for the year ended December 31 – Urban Juice & Soda spilled into the juice category when it introduced Jones Juice in mid-March. The new label marks the company’s first venture into the non-carbonated marketplace with the introduction of six unique bevvies, including Black (black tea, apple, kava and valerian root) and Dave (green tea with hemp, ginseng and royal jelly).

Meanwhile, the Web site has fulfilled its goal, having attracted about 150,000 registered users, according to van Stolk. He says interaction – visitors can write movie reviews, contribute to auctions, and make their own labels and postcards which are then displayed in a gallery – has solidified an ‘emotional connection’ to the brand. The gallery has increased hits by 30 per cent, he says. ‘Consumers don’t need products, but if you allow people to communicate about a brand, as well as help create it, it becomes theirs.’

The site also allows Urban Juice & Soda to collect data on its core target – 14- to 24-year-olds, skewed fairly equally between gals and guys, according to the company president. This year, Urban Juice & Soda also plans to debut a radio campaign in certain regions. Although van Stolk wouldn’t give further details, he describes the spots as ‘really off-the-wall.’

Marketers learning the ropes

Last year’s headline: Privacy law proclaimed

Synopsis: Bill C-6, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, is passed into law by the Canadian government as a means to control the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. However, according to the Canadian Marketing Association, many businesses aren’t prepared to deal with the new legislation, set to go into effect January 1. The bill requires companies to specify identified purposes of personal data at or before the time of collection, as well as offer consumers the choice of opting out. Businesses must also re-approach individuals and regain consent if they plan to use the information for a purpose not previously identified.

The new bill will have an effect on direct mailers, but according to the CMA, it will also reward ‘good marketers,’ who consider ‘client, customer and employee privacy rights in developing products and administrative practices,’ because it will help build consumers’ trust. Complaints under the new law are investigated by The Privacy Commission, which can force a company to correct its practices and publish a notice of any action taken to do so, as well as pay fines.

One year later: The privacy bill is phased in: as of January 1, federally regulated businesses are req-uired to comply whenever there is a transfer of personal information across an international or provincial border; and in 2004, businesses working within a province must also fall in line.

Marketers still need schooling on the new law, says Amanda Maltby, VP of public affairs and communications at the CMA, which is meeting members individually to help them work through the new legislation.

When launching a new campaign, explains Maltby, marketers need to ask themselves whether or not there has been due diligence on the part of the list management and brokerage firms with which they are conducting business.

‘There needs to be ongoing internal review of your information-gathering practices,’ she says, adding that the law allows advertisers to continue speaking to existing customers. In regard to loyalty programs, for instance, a company has implied consent to approach members.

‘Where you want to make a list of customers available to a broker, that’s where you have to ensure you include an opt-out clause,’ she says.