Spa Experiences Drive Aquafina Plus Mall Sampling
Go to a deli or supermarket and you’ll see water, water everywhere. Bottles of expensive imports from the mountains of France, domestic options from Maine to Montana and good ol’ generic supermarket brands. When it comes to buying water, consumers are flooded with choices, which posed a challenge for the Canadian launch of Aquafina Plus, a Pepsi-owned brand. The answer entailed positioning the brand in the wellness/water category as a vitamin-enhanced beverage. The result was a healthy lift in sales and awareness.
“Wellness is growing as a priority in Canada,” says Steve Medcalf, account director at Launch!, a division of CIM, which handled the tour.
Aquafina Plus’ 15-foot-by-20-foot space was an inviting, non-imposing way to reach its target audience, health-interested females ages 18 to 49, through a wellness spa sampling experience that took place in high-traffic, upscale malls in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. It featured the brand’s signature white and blue colors along with a trickling water wall, relaxing seating and a sampling bar staffed by knowledgeable Aquafina Plus Wellness “personal trainers” who were decked out in athletic gear—Aquafina Plus-branded yoga pants, fitted t-shirts and running shoes. They distributed samples and supplied information, administered wellness quizzes and gave tips on how to incorporate stretching, flexibility and personal hydration into the day. Instead of just a drink of good-tasting water, guests got a taste of a good life wellness plan as well. The average interaction length was several minutes.
“We learned that in starting up a category in Canada you definitely need to educate the consumer, which is why we took a functional approach,” Medcalf says. “While vitamin-enhanced waters have been around for some time in the U.S., Aquafina Plus was really the first vitamin-enriched water in Canada. We created the category and taught consumers the functional benefits of vitamin-enriched water.
“Malls were definitely the place to do this,” Medcalf adds. “We really got to our consumer base versus going out to the masses. At a festival or fair there are so many points of stimuli going on you can’t really focus on that promotion. In a mall environment, it is almost a beacon.”
The 10-week tour started in September and went through November, spending a week at each mall, 12 hours each day, distributing more than 210,000 samples. The brand also has the highest repeat purchase rate of any vitamin-enhanced water, making trial a key component for the brand. Aquafina Plus finished the year as the No. 1 recognized vitamin-enhanced water among consumers in Canada, outperforming the competition across all measured channels.