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Craft Cola - A Distribution Portfolio Game Changer

1 2018

Success in any business relies on the ability to stay ahead of the game and recognize trends that can offer new opportunities. For beverage distributors, awareness of trends that might influence their customers’ consumers’ buying behaviors is critical. The craft beverage trend is one such opportunity that has shown unprecedented growth in consumer demand resulting in increased sales. Not only that, this trend has the added value of being able to open the door to the exclusive HORECA market segment for distributors.

This was what spurred us to launch our own craft soda: Royal Crown Cola. Before we share more about that experience, we want to answer two somewhat instrumental questions you may be asking yourself: first, what is it about Craft that makes it so attractive to consumers and – in turn, your clients. And second, are the Craft numbers at the end of the day, really that noteworthy? Then we’ll share how we were able to create a branding strategy for Royal Crown that was critical to its success and will be the key to selling it to your own clients.

See what the craft soda market is forecast to be valued at by 2026 here.

The Craft Beverage Trend

Consumer demand was the driving force behind the growth of craft beverages. It all started with craft beer as a response to consumer tastes leading to the identification of similar opportunities in the beverage industry as a whole. Beverage producers found that consumers were increasingly interested in products that were promoting exclusivity, a healthy lifestyle or an ecologically-conscious belief. Consumers also wanted to be able to choose a high-end alternative to alcohol that would still embody the same level of sophistication. They wanted to reach for a product that boasts elements of authenticity, sustainability, organic ingredients, and natural flavors.  


Unprecedented Growth

But how did this end up translating into actual sales? What started exclusively in the beer industry in the USA grew into an international phenomenon with craft beer industry sales reaching $26 billion in 2017. It was in this surprising growth that non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers took note and –  BOOM – the craft beverage phenomenon became another trend that the industry did not see coming. It had a domino effect that resulted in the creation of craft juices, sodas, energy drinks & waters. What was even more exciting was that craft was identified as the ideal product to enter the HORECA market with. Just as Craft beer spread from its American roots to become an international revenue generating sensation, the growth of the Craft beverage market reflects the same patterns. The value of the craft beverages is projected to reach over 732 million dollars globally by 2025.

Download the Case Study

This brings us to Royal Crown. As one of the leading American cola brands, we decided our first craft soda would be a craft cola. In partnership with Kofola, our local bottlers in the region, we planned our launch with the goal to enter the HORECA market in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Our launch was a resounding success.

The key to our success? Branding. And here’s how we did it...


Next Level Branding Experience

Developing the best branding strategy for a new product is never easy. We knew that our brand had to embody key craft messages while still setting us apart from the competition. But a craft soda could not just be about the brand’s message; it also would need to deliver a customer experience that is a “tactile and sensory”.

Royal Crown’s brand had a clear advantage from the onset: its authenticity emanating from RC Cola International’s legacy as one of the original American colas. This is what shaped the foundational aspects of our brand. Creatives were used to illustrate the authentic taste of the cola and the premium value of the drink. The signature claim: “Royal Crown Cola, Southern Slow Since 1905”, based on the story of an original southern cola created almost 115 years ago, was integrated into the main messaging of the campaign.


Quenching More Than Just Thirst

It was important that Royal Crown was able to offer a customer experience that went far above just another cola experience; the experience needed to be indulgent and connected to our legacy. Moreover, we knew that if we did this right, we would be able to succeed in HORECA which would pave the way to widen the channels of distribution. So, we took our branding to the next level and created a customer experience based on the DNA of Royal Crown Cola’s legacy.

The brand Royal Crown was born in 1905 from from an era of where time slows down to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and expectations of fine service were high. Symbolizing the authenticity of the brand, Royal Crown was packaged in a unique amber-colored bottle and individually served in a branded glass on a wooden tray..

Setting the bar high, Royal Crown has been able to define quality and presentation in every part of the craft soda drinking experience.


How-To: Your Guide to Explosive Craft Soda Success

Still need convincing? The proof is in the pudding!

Within a few short months of the initial launch, brand awareness jumped to 23% in the Czech Republic, and sales margins went up to a whopping 60%.

Distributors must ensure that they offer a wide array of products to appeal to consumers, especially those with sophisticated tastes. Choosing a craft soda whose brand has the power to open more opportunities is the key you must look out for. Take a closer look at how we launched Royal Crown using the power of branding and even more impressive KPIs by downloading the full case study today.\