Making it ‘Grape’ Again

Avery’s Beverages – a company founded in a red Connecticut barn over 100 years ago – was struggling. When Sherman Avery started making handcrafted soda back in 1904, he wasn’t facing the crushing competitive pressure of industry giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The root beer and ginger ale he made didn’t need a celebrity endorsement or a Super Bowl halftime sponsorship; customers loved it based on the simplicity of good old-fashioned cane sugar and natural flavoring.

But over the years, the fierce marketplace of carbonated beverages became too much for this small-town producer. To make ends meet, the company started offering bottled water and by their centennial anniversary, 5-gallon bottled water deliveries were the lion’s share of revenue. Sure, they were scraping by, but the business was as flat as a week-old bottle of uncapped cola. Things were so bad, that the company was strongly considering dropping the soda business altogether and just focusing on water.

For fun, Avery’s Beverages tried a little experiment in conjunction with the 2008 presidential election cycle – they produced a small batch of Barack O’Berry and John McCream sodas. The whimsical new offerings immediately sold out. Instead of chalking it up to good luck and buckling back down in the water business, the leaders at Avery’s saw and seized their opening. While quality had always been high, getting their message to stand out above the overwhelming competitive noise had been nearly impossible until now. They realized that fun, themed flavors and names could help garner publicity, customer attention, and sales.

Linda’s Smackdown Soda and Dick’s Blue Menthol were sold during the 2010 Connecticut senate race between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Dick Blumenthal. Upon the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed in 2011, the company quickly launched So Long Osama, a blood orange soda.

Next came the launch of Totally Gross Sodas. “Dedicated to the ten-year-old in all of us,” flavors included Dog Drool, Bug Barf, Zombie Brain-Juice, and Monster Mucus. These “SODAsgusting®” flavors became an instant hit among kids, college students, and curious adults.

Sales and excitement grew with the 2012 launch of Crème De Mitt, as Mitt Romney challenged Obama for the presidency. When the New England Patriots made headlines for “Deflategate,” Avery responded by launching Deflated Ball Brew. Today, the company is always on the lookout for topical and newsworthy ideas to inspire new flavors and names.

With the controversial 2016 Presidential election, Avery’s enjoyed a 35% boost in revenue by launching fresh flavors dedicated to the candidates – Hillary Hooch, with the exact flavors listed as “classified,” and Trump Tonic, a grape soda with extra acidity boasting the tagline, “Make America Grape Again.” Both flavors flew off the shelves, fueling Avery’s growth and success.

The company prospered when they focused on standing out instead of blending in. A little creativity can go a long way when fighting for customer attention. For you, find something that’s noteworthy, something remarkable to say that can’t be ignored. That extra twist can be your difference-maker in 2017, delivering you ‘grape’ success for years to come.