Zara’s Space on the Web – Musings

April 12, 2009

Has Innocent killed its brand?

Filed under: Uncategorized — zarazilla @ 3:04 pm
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Last week, Innocent Smoothies sold 20% of its share to Coca Cola.

Until I heard the news, my views of the two brands were:
Innocent: Love them. Great smoothies, a bit on the pricey side, but well worth it. A company that wins big on ethics, donating 10% of profits to environmental and educational projects in the places where their fruits are grown. The first to come up with bottles made from fully recycled plastic.
Coke: Boycotted. Huge workers rights and environmental issues leading to worker deaths and parched farms.

So when I heard the news, I, like many of Innocent’s fans, was understandably disappointed. I’ve kept myself updated for Innocent’s side of the story, but was disappointed that although a message from the Innocent founders was posted on 6th April letting customers know about Coke’s investment and the reasoning behind Innocent’s decision, there was no effort made to address the ethical issues I covered above.

A further blog post expanded slightly on the Founders’ message, but still did not touch the issues covered above. Replies came thick and fast, many by once-loyal customers expressing disappointment. As yet, there has been no answer from Innocent, despite a post afterwards about easter eggs.

It seems to me Innocent has made a very bad decision that has damaged their brand image. They have always touted their ethical values in business, and many people sincerely believed in their friendly chat on their bottles, cartons, and weekly e-mails. It seemed to me that Innocent worked very hard on cultivating their brand image and targeting their products at customers interested in ethics, and in paying a premium for those ethics. However, these very same customers will also be the ones participating in Coke boycotts.

For me, the jury is still out, but Innocent need to act fast in order to keep and win back loyal customers. They need to address the Coke ethics issues, and any reasoning behind why they chose to take Coke’s money despite knowing about them. I want to believe that Innocent brought these up with Coke before accepting their money, and that Coke has said or promised something for Innocent to agree to the investment, and I want to know what that is. If not, I’m afraid Innocent joins the boycott list.

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