Harriet Sanders
Source: WARC Awards, Shortlisted, Effective Innovation, 2019
Robinsons, the long-standing UK fruit squash brand, turned around declining sales by revitalising its core range of soft drinks to deliver volume and margin growth for brand owner Britvic.
  • Between 2010 and 2017, the squash category was in terminal value decline due to increased competition and a preference for drinking 'healthier' water.
  • Project Revitalise was executed via the launch of two new sub-brands (Fruit Creations and Fruit Cordial) and a brand refresh of the Robinsons core range.
  • The creative proposition was that, where Robinsons' core range was squash for families, Robinsons Fruit Creations would be squash for grown-ups.
  • To drive awareness with consumers, Robinsons launched a £2m campaign which included TV, PR and digital advertising.
  • A 6% increase in penetration turned a long-term sales decline into 7.8% sales growth, and by July 2017 Robinsons had overtaken Coca-Cola as the number one consumed soft drinks brand in- home.
Campaign details
Brand: Robinsons
Brand owner: Britvic
Lead agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, m/SIX
Contributing agencies: Red PR, Bloom, Ipsos
Country: United Kingdom
Industries: Concentrates & cordials
Media channels: Public relations, Social media, Television, Video on demand
Budget: 1 - 3 million
Executive summary
Between 2010 and 2017 the squash category was in terminal value decline and penetration was a leaking bucket with 1.6 million households leaving this category (6%). The macro factors that contributed to this were increased competition of soft drinks and water perceptually being healthier than a squash. As the number one brand with 38% share of the category, Robinsons led category decline, dropping from 55% to 41% penetration and losing £20m brand value over eight years to 2018. As the biggest brand that Britvic owned, it needed a transformational plan to turn around the category and deliver volume and margin growth for Britvic. To do this, Robinsons needed to be back in a value and penetration position similar to that held pre-2012.

The team set out on an unprecedented task to reverse the decline and transform the flavour concentrates category in the UK. The project, named ‘Revitalise’, was centred on changing brand perception, shifting it from an old and increasingly irrelevant brand to a modern and exciting brand in order to bring back lapsed shoppers and drive growth once more into the category.

Revitalise was executed through three key initiates: the launch of two new sub-brands, Fruit Creations and Fruit Cordial; and a brand refresh of the Robinsons core range.

The key insights for Revitalise were based upon:
  • Adding value into the category to trade consumers up – proven in other FMCG categories.
  • The knowledge that Robinsons was too reliant on being one product for all consumers.
This project had a huge risk attached: due to limited shelf space in retailers, the brand proactively delisted 11 products from the core range, at a value of £20m in order to launch.

The Revitalise launch has exceeded expectations and has been hailed internally and externally as a big success for both the brand and the category. Within 12 months of launch, the Robinsons Masterbrand has propelled to 7.8% value sales and 6% penetration growth. This has had a driving halo effect on the category which has turned from a position of long-term decline into 6.2% value sales growth MAT (moving annual total). Fruit Creations and Fruit Cordials were the number one and two soft drink launches of 2018, which contributed to one of the biggest-ever achievements for the Robinsons brand; Robinsons is now the number one consumed soft drink in-home, overtaking the Coca-Cola portfolio in July 2017.
Market background and objectives
In 2015, the UK squash market was as illustrated below.
The squash category was in decline in the UK and in 2015 the category, worth £475.2m, was declining by 41.3%. It was the second-biggest declining sector within soft drinks.
As a 196-year-old brand, Robinsons has been enjoyed by many generations of British families. Most people will have fond memories of drinking squash when growing up, which is why even the smallest glass of Robinsons delivers instant reconnection to the innocence of childhood. A feeling of simple goodness, that no other brand or own-label product gets close to. Three years ago, this was how consumers viewed the brand – which would be good for any brand owner; however, there were fundamental issues with the brand.
With the brand’s core consumer base growing up, and amid changing tastes – shoppers drinking more water and becoming ‘scared’ of sugar – Robinsons was at risk of becoming irrelevant in the years to come. Robinsons’ overall brand vision was ‘The Nation’s favourite soft-drink brand’, but it had been becoming less of a favourite brand with the UK public:
  • Its core shoppers were drinking less squash and more water.
  • As the biggest squash brand, it was driving 50% of the category’s decline.
  • It was losing brand equity and consumers were struggling to see the difference between the brand and own label.
  • Two million fewer shoppers were buying the brand than they were five years previously.
  • It was experiencing a 10-year penetration decline.
As the biggest owned brand within Britvic soft drinks (and also bottler for Pepsi brands in the UK and owner of the J2O and London Essence brands), we had to bravely rejuvenate this brand to make it become the UK’s favourite soft drink yet again. Our objective was to drive value growth internally and externally for Robinsons through a revitalisation of the brand.
In order to address this, the strategy for strengthening Robinsons’ brand relevance was twofold:
  • Launch new products catering to the tastes of adults, to bring back lapsed shoppers into the category, creating category value.
  • Strengthen adults’ emotional connection with the Robinsons brand they knew and loved through a stronger creative idea.
On top of our brand objectives, we also had the category mission of ‘Driving reinvention of flavour concentrates’. This translated as making it easier and more engaging to shop and create value for our retailers and ourselves by establishing good, better, best tiers within the squash category.

The following objectives were identified as part of the Fruit Creations project within 52 weeks:
  • Category growth of £15m and 2 percentage points (pp) penetration.
  • Robinsons to be the most consumed soft drink in the UK.
  • Robinsons to gain 2pp market share, 2pp penetration, 10% increase in WASP (web advertising and special promotions).
  • Fruit Creations to achieve 5% market share, value target £18m, 8% penetration.
  • Drive 15% value sales trade-up from the core Robinsons range.
  • Liquid and packaging to beat action standards in quantitative.
Market background and objectives
In order to address this, the strategy for strengthening Robinsons’ brand relevance was twofold:
  • Launch two new sub-brands, catering to the tastes of adults, to bring them back into the category.
  • Strengthen adults’ emotional connection with the Robinsons brand they knew and loved with a new organising idea and TV campaign.
Creating two new tiers of innovation within the master brand and two new sub-brands to fit within them helped to drive trade-up, which gives both higher value and margin for Britvic, while ensuring that our retailers have greater margins. It also enabled Robinsons to launch sub-brands which created premiumisation – the key rule for innovation.

These two new sub-brands were: Fruit Creations, which was to make the ‘better tier’ and target older families; and a more premium Fruit Cordials.

We also had to make room for these two sub-brands. The category and brand were in decline and shelf space was in high demand, so why would retailers make room for this? We looked at the tail in the core and proactively delisted 11 SKUs to make space for Fruit Creations and Fruit Cordial. We sacrificed £20m of retail sales value (RSV) from existing core or ‘good’ tier SKUs to make way for our innovation.

The first new product to launch was Robinsons Fruit Creations – containing twice the fruit and coming in a range of juicier, fruitier flavours (Peach & Raspberry, Apple & Elderflower).
Fruit Cordials was the second piece of innovation. This was Robinsons’ first entry into the best tier and a way to democratise the best tier, allowing it to be more accessible to the masses – similar to how sharing bags of crisps had achieved this in the past. These were three products, containing botanicals and taking on products that were a good switch for alcohol – Lime & Mint, Pear & Elderflower and Raspberry & Rhubarb.

To develop Fruit Creations, we undertook an eight-stage research plan – going from concept screeners/development, through to volumetric, liquid testing and comms research. This ensured we were engaging with consumers at every step. The rigorous research plan was necessary because of the high level of risk involved: due to category dynamics we knew any product launch would have to be largely within our own shelf space, so we would have to delist 11 products from our core range, at a value of £20m.

Our research highlighted that some of our current flavours in the core portfolio were already targeting a different audience and these were the more exciting flavours like orange and mango. Thus, we realised that what resonated best with consumers was Fruit Creations – exotic pairings like Rich Peach & Raspberry with twice the fruit vs. our core range, with the ideal range of nine flavours. The more exciting flavour combinations appealed to the older segment who wanted more complex flavours, which were less sweet and thus not ‘kiddy’.

We commissioned the technical department to research a range of different flavour combinations – from fresh to rich, and citrus to berry. TURF analysis identified more preferred flavour combinations and the right combination to give the right level of reach.
We launched Fruit Creations with a 12-month time frame to be on the shelves by October 2017 in order to meet retailer range reviews. This extremely tight deadline meant we had to work differently within our business framework: a core project team hosted three meetings per week to cover different areas in the business – make (technical), market (brand, shopper) and sell (sales and commercial). This collaborative approach meant we could identify issues more easily and action them much quicker than usual. We had the added challenge of facing production in a new factory Robinsons hadn’t used before, and the new line wouldn’t be available to test until July.

To launch Fruit Creations in all retailers, we worked closely with our customers to tailor launch plans to their objectives. We took them on the journey with us by engaging them early in our plans and having an immersive launch that brought the plan and product to life. Half of our large retailers didn’t have range reviews in October, so we looked at options to work around this in collaboration with them, resulting in getting Fruit Creations into five out of six retailers within three months of each other.

Driving sales in-store was a key pillar to our campaign and we invested a further £700k in outlets, with bespoke plans in each retailer based on two objectives:
  • Trade up current Robinsons buyers into Fruit Creations.
  • Drive awareness of Fruit Creations with new/lapsed users.
Launching Robinsons as a premium product for the first time was our riskiest launch. We were asking shoppers to pay £2.50 for a bottle of Fruit Cordial, when normally they would buy Robinsons at £1 per bottle, or two for £2.00. We needed to be confident that people would be happy to pay more for a brand with immense trust.

To ensure success in implementing these tiers, we pursued a rigorous research plan with several key agency partners:
  • idea screening
  • concept testing
  • qualitative ‘pack-cept’ testing
  • quantitative shelf test
  • sensory profiling
  • quantitative liquid usage test
  • full volumetric and ranging.
Our new product development (NPD) showed huge potential when tested with consumers, with 98% of existing buyers preferring the new concepts and demonstrating a willingness to pay substantially more for them. We predicted that 90% of the volume would come from trade-up and via our price tiering; 50% of value was forecast to be incremental to the category.
To drive awareness with consumers, we also launched a large £2m new campaign. We pitched out our brand business to a new agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, and created a new communication idea, launching with Fruit Creations. Our objective was ‘Attract lapsed and new shoppers to category using above-the-line to activate in store’. TV had proven in previous brand research to be the key channel, so ad spend was concentrated predominately here, supported with PR and digital.

Containing twice the amount of fruit and coming in a range of new flavours, Robinsons Fruit Creations was perfect to start giving Robinsons a reason to go on TV again and start talking to its lost generation of shoppers – adults aged 25–40. From here, the creative proposition was simple: where Robinsons’ core was squash for families, Robinsons Fruit Creations would be squash for grown-ups.

And with that, the opportunity became not just to launch a new product but to restage the brand in consumers’ hearts.

In order to engage adults and encourage them to see Robinsons as a drink for them as well as for children, we needed to bring the brand to life in a new way – driving relevancy and updating their perception of the brand they knew and loved from growing up.

The creative challenge, however, lay in finding a way to capture and express the feeling of simple goodness that Robinsons served up in every glass – the reconnection to the innocence of childhood that people experience when they have a squash. Importantly, with the main aim of boosting brand relevancy, we needed to do this in a way that felt engaging and fresh, rather than nostalgic.
Creatively, we used Robinsons’ connection to childhood to our advantage, by personifying the brand as an innocent, but disarmingly honest, child. But not just any child. An expert on both squash and the feeling of simple goodness it delivers.

This thought became the organising idea for the launch of Fruit Creations, but also the entirety of Robinsons’ product portfolio.

Cue Rosemary, our budding protagonist, the physical embodiment of Robinsons Fruit Creations. With twice the fruit, Rosemary served up a double-helping of straight-up child logic – a much-needed wake-up call to adults and an invitation to try a little squash for grown-ups.

For the Fruit Cordials TV ad, we used Sam. He was an 8-year-old who told a grown-up that she didn’t need wine on a Monday night and instead she should have a cordial. This was derived out of the insight that grown-ups are looking to reduce their intake of alcohol, and cordials would be a good swap.
Rosemary in Creations TV ad. Below: Fruit Cordials TV ad with Samuel.
Implementation, including creative and media development
Adhering to the Ehrenberg-Bass philosophy, our media approach was to ensure we delivered mass reach to all category buyers, while positioning Robinsons as an adult drink that consumers would be happy to pay more for. This translated into our audio-visual approach, by launching with impact and ensuring access to premium and sophisticated environments. Being aware of the wide target demographic, we had to have a presence across both linear TV and video on demand (VOD).

In terms of the two separate products, it was decided that these should run as separate campaigns, rather than be put together under one proposition. Creations was launched first on 19 January with a 40-second TVC, featuring the child-squash expert, Rosemary. To drive reach and awareness, two consecutive weeks of the 40- second ad followed, before we switched to a pulsing strategy for two further weeks with the 20-second asset, which built frequency and drove cost efficiency. We ran in programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother, The Voice and Take Me Out. While the campaign delivered 73% reach, with a frequency of 5.5, Finecast and VOD activity ran during the first and second week of the campaign to reach the younger demographic. The majority of our inventory (67.81%) was served across the broadcast tier 1 stations, with a further 32.15% being served across tier-2 stations such as CNN, ESPN and Vevo. Only a tiny fraction (0.04%) was served across tier 3.

For Cordials, we launched slightly later with a 30-second asset on 19 March. This asset ran for two consecutive weeks, ensuring we were live over the Easter period, before we switched to a pulsing strategy for two further weeks with a 20-second asset to maintain frequency and deliver cost efficiency. To build premium associations with the sentiment of ‘good’, we ran across contextually relevant programming on Food Network and Good Food channels. The campaign delivered 68% ABC1 adults 1+ reach at a frequency of 4.3 and we ran in shows such as Sunday Brunch and The Great Celebrity Bake Off.

Creations activity began again shortly afterwards, on 14 May. This time, to maximise budget, we ran one week of the 40-second asset, followed by a consecutive week of the 30-second ad, before dropping to a pulsing strategy with the 20-second ad for three additional weeks. This campaign delivered 69% ABC1 adults with a frequency of 4.6 and we appeared in Love Island, Gogglebox and Coronation Street.
Performance against objectives
The launch of Fruit Creations and Fruit Cordials has been an incredible success. Fruit Creations is the number one soft drinks launch of the past five years and Fruit Cordials is number two. Both launches have not only transformed the Robinsons brand, but they have also transformed the Flavour Concentrates category by delivering the most significant growth in penetration for 10 years, as well as outstanding growth.
  • Brand growth: Incremental £19m RSV delivered in the launch year and propelling the Masterbrand from 10 years of sales and penetration decline into 7.8% value sales growth. The brand has now reached £189m RSV.
  • Category growth: Long-term decline turned into 6.2% value sales growth MAT.
  • Shopper gains: 6% penetration increase overall with gains into Robinsons Fruit Creations and Cordials. We have seen our highest penetration since July 2015, also bringing new people into the squash category. In July 2017, Robinsons overtook Coca-Cola as the number-one consumed soft-drink brand in-home.
  • We have also seen improved return on sales on our Family Favourites range, showing that the remaining core range is working harder on-shelf.
  • Our Fruit Creations ad continues to perform best with our consumers, driven by the engaging idea of ‘child wisdom’.
  • NPD-led comms has elevated our mental availability and relevance to new occasions.
  • In combination with optimised media placement, this has delivered ROI growth as measured by marketing mix modelling.
Creating these tiers, and brands to fit within them, has helped drive trade-up, which gives both higher value and margin for Britvic, while ensuring that our retailers also have greater margins. It also enabled Robinsons to launch sub-brands which created premiumisation – the key rule for innovation.
The campaign not only increased sales but also won product of the year for the squash category.
Lessons learned
This product was born out of consumer insight. We ensured we kept consumers at the heart of everything with a rigorous 12-stage research process and then launched with a large risk attached by removing £20m RSV out of the market.

As a brand team, like many of our consumers, we have also grown up with Robinsons and wanted the UK to fall back in love with our brand. We wanted to create and launch products that people would be excited by and not just see as 'boring squash’.
Internally within Britvic, Robinsons is the largest owned brand for the business. Its success within Britvic determines a lot of the overall performance for the business, and so in order for this to succeed, the whole business was behind it and it showed how we could all work as one team to land something we were passionate about.

As a marketeer, it is quite often heard in the business that ‘I want to do a revitalise project’ or ‘I want to do what Robinsons did’. You can often have a brilliant piece of innovation or an amazing piece of communications but unless the business is behind you and totally believes in it, it won’t make an impact. This is what was different for Robinsons. Within Britvic, we all love and have respect for the Robinsons brand. We wanted this to work and be something that we would be famous for in our careers and as a business we ran.

We have gained these results following a project which has lasted over two years. It takes persistence, time and passion to turn around such a large brand with changes rooted in consumer insight.


Time: It takes time to sell an idea internally, and then externally to customers. We needed to not give up if
someone said no, and instead keep persisting with the project.

Retailers windows: Despite the project going to market, it was not possible to hit all range reviews, so we had to use WIGIGs and think outside the box to do this.

New agency relationships: Our relationship with Saatchi & Saatchi was very new and there was a big task. We had to get to know each other very quickly and the Britvic team spent a lot of time working out of the office. A key lesson to improve relationships very quickly.

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