Rubicon Exotic sees green in coconut water

The exotic fruit specialist hopes a big shopper presence for a new organic drink will help it stand out in a mainstreamed category.

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Rubicon Exotic, a Richmond Hill-based beverage brand that specializes in exotic fruit in different product formats, is launching its own organic coconut water, hoping a big shopper push and stand-out design will help it compete in a hotly contested category.

Coconut water, once relegated to niche grocers and aisles, has been mainstreamed in the last few years. Ongoing growing since then has been helped by its popularity as an alternative to sugary drinks, becoming a staple across gyms, yoga studios and Starbucks counters.

“We actually pioneered packaging coconut water in the late 1980s, and I guess we were way ahead of the trend at that point,” says Anjalee Nagrecha, marketing director for Rubicon Canada. The brand’s new organic product is launching in Sobeys, independent grocers, as well as Rabba banners, an effort to reach younger, health, wellness, and fitness-minded GTA residents and where it will be incorporating digital displays.

Nagrecha tells strategy that point of sale is always important, especially in an environment with limited opportunities for sampling and demos. Hence, it’s relying more on danglers, wobblers, full pallets in major grocers and sell sheets to distributors. All of the POS is amplifying on-pack messaging, which emphasizes its “green” bona fides: tender young coconuts on pack, natural ingredients and certification for using organic and non-GMO ingredients. Its messaging revolves around creating an experience with beverages and taking people away from the mundane to something exotic, reflected in its “bring the beach home” messaging.

While it is emphasizing the attributes that many in the competitive landscape also embrace, Rubicon is differentiating by emphasizing that it uses green coconuts, something that informed the light green design. Also, Nagrecha says Rubicon had a look at what POS was available in the market, and decided on a splash of water, sky and light blue colour schemes and a tender young green coconut as a differentiator.

“You’ll be able to see that green colour come through in our design,” she says. It also emphasizes “that’s it, nothing else” messaging, saying it does not add any other sugars, which is appealing to a younger demo.

More broadly, Rubicon’s always positions itself as specialists in the exotic fruit beverage category, she says, so it’s a natural fit for the brand’s portfolio. They waited to launch the product, in order to make it true to mouthful and experience.

 

Since the product also has one year shelf stability, and Nagrecha says it’s not as affected as other beverages by decreased grocer foot traffic as a result of COVID-19. Demand during the pandemic has been interesting to see, as while occasional beverages have taken a hit, she says people are stocking up.

The brand works with boutique food and beverage social agency Snack Toronto, as well as NKPR for public relations, and its typical outreach includes in-store demos. giveaways, competitions, digital and radio activations.

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