For some time now I’ve been cultivating the idea to write a few lines about an unusual branding that the Atlantic group applied to the tea product line acquired from Pliva in 2001. Atlantic’s decision was to keep the teas within the Cedevita line of business and also to use this very popular brand of refreshing beverages to promote the teas. Cedevita was among the most popular drinks in former Yugoslavia. Today it is packed in plastic jars in form of granules that dissolve in water with an effervescent effect that create a fruit tasting refreshing multivitamin drink.
Probably the idea about the mentioned article would never have grown into a decision, and the decision into action, if there wasn’t the observation of my eight-year old son that has confirmed my suspicions. Passing near the “city light” advertisement at one of the Zagreb tram stations, the child begins this unusual conversation:
Lovro: “Dad, will we buy this Cedevita tea?”.
Me: “But my son, we have it at home – an ordinary tea in filter bags.”
Lovro (enthusiastically): “Oh, it is kept in bags, you mix it with water, shake and drink?.”
I (taking a deep breath): “No, my son …”.
Yes, the tea is not an instant beverage in granules, and still it is called in the same way. How’s that possible?
Before of Atlantic’s re-branding, in consumer’s perception Cedevita meant only one thing: an instant vitamin drink. Time ago, when Pliva used to
pack Cedevita in medical jars, consumer perception recognized the drink as a serious diet supplement. Still today, the text on the package states that it is just about it and that the recommended daily dose should not be exceeded. The package itself, however, does not reflect such seriousness any more, and the same goes to the related consumer perception (and habits, I’d add).
We know that the perception of a brand is usually established early in childhood. If we consider that children are the main consumers of Cedevita instant beverage, and that for them Ce-de-vita means exactly this, the confusion when encountering teas with the same trademark does not surprise.
I believe that applying brand attributes of a recognized instant beverage to the tea product line, represents a negative shift in the strategy of such brand. The confusion is further increased by recent investments through package redesign and intensive advertising of Cedevita teas – by ads that, by large portion of our perception, actually promote vitamin instant beverage. Judging by the web pages of Cedevita teas, it seems that even Atlantic’s marketing experts weren’t able to detach from such perception. The pages that belong to the teas represent just a subset of the Cedevita site, therefore the new tea packages are surrounded by orange bubbles on the move, so characteristic for the instant drink sharing the same name.
In this discussion I will disregard the hypothesis that the people from Atlantic deliberately push the more profitable Cedevita instant beverage on the account of (supposing) less profitable tea product line. Knowing this private company by a decisive and pragmatic management, I believe that the line of former Pliva teas, would have been rather sold to competitors than kept to serve as advertising billboard for a more successful product line.
Brand Communication: boiled water, granules, thirst, freshness, basketball …
Returning to the Cedevita brand and its communication. Cedevita, comparing to natural tea satisfies a completely different need. Even when we drink it, somehow subconsciously we do not believe that we are doing something really healthy. Effervescent effect when preparing the drink, during which the glass becomes temporarily transformed into a test tube, and sugar as one of the basic ingredients, suggest that we are going to consume a refreshing vice, rather than a healthy beverage. What remains as consolation is that we get the necessary “power of seven vitamins” as a food supplement.
While the primary function of Cedevita is a cold drink for refreshment and thirst, the tea is a warm beverage of health and relaxation. It implies a natural herbal mixture, kept in a previously boiled water. Tea is aromatic. Cedevita is the freshness and the sound of the dissolving granules. The tea are leaves and dried fruit, while Cedevita is the powder with “natural fruit flavor”, as stated on the label.
In this whole discussion the potential synergy of the brand should be taken into account. Cedevita drink, Cedevita tea, Cedevita basketball team … When such unified brand has been stretched through consistent marketing communication at a wider region, then this approach carries a synergistic effect and significant savings. In the case of Cedevita, this region includes Croatia and its neighboring countries. Basketball club that plays in the regional league under the name of Cedevita and marketing campaigns that can be recycled in several markets with little intervention, reduce the cost and increase the synergy effect of a long-rooted brand. But it is exactly this “rootedness” to be the reason for confusion by the communication that places the instant beverage and the tea in same basket.
Cedevita teas and brand internationalization
If we consider the brand in terms of its internationalization and ignore the neighboring countries whose consumers grew up Cedevita, then we raise the question of purpose of a brand shared among instant drinks and teas. While in Croatia and the region, brand recognition can encourage a faster acceptance of Atlanic’s tea product line, this is not the case in other countries. Assuming that Atlantic plan to address a broader market with their teas, the arguments above seem to loose the ground. Even in a market that has never heard of Cedevita / instant drink, the question is how well will consumers associate that name to teas. The name itself evokes the C and D vitamins, or the life (Latin vita = life).
Successful global brands of tea are appealing to lifestyle, environmental production, originality. They try to give a breathe of colonial times and distant places to their products. The aroma of such teas evoke the smell of the wooden hulls of sailing ships, pollen, rain forests and the value that ingenious merchant achieved before the tiny amounts of crushed leaves ended up in our tea paper bags. Looking at the world’s most famous tea brands such as Lipton or Twinings, we can notice the above patterns, also successfully applied by Franck to their campaign for Gunpowder premium green tea. Gunpowder communicates exactly that – exclusivity of each peace of tea leave, for which Franck claims to be specifically cut, highlights its premium quality, appeals to inner peace, and evokes travel. Tin box in which the tea is sold and kept, returns us back to the times of our grandmothers and precious shipments from distant places.
Returning to Cedevita teas. What would be the brand that Atlantic could have had applied to their warm herbal drinks, which would ensure its fair share in the hearts and minds of their consumers? Atlantic have already separated brands of their line of functional teas from those intended for enjoying the warm pleasure. Functional teas are set apart under the brand Naturavita. My objection would be that these teas are also promoted under the umbrella brand of Cedevita (the web with bubbles).
Personally, I would be more inclined to place them under the umbrella of Atlantic’s Dietpharm line of business that covers dietary supplements. As for the rest of the tea line, I believe that some variations of Atlantic’s corporate brand carry the greatest potential for the purpose. My suggestion would be to use the Atlantic ocean as link of the New and Old World: “Atlantic genuine tea”, “Old Atlantic tea”, “Atlantic premium tea”, …
This article is not work of a professional brand manager, but an attempt of a consumer who is educated in marketing to share his thoughts about the confusion created in his perception, by a brand expansion to the “adjacent” product category.
There are many similar branding cases that confuse, such as Podravka‘s use of an extremely successful brand of baby food Čokolino [Chocolino] for its excellent chocolate spread, or even worst, the decision of the city of Zagreb to promote through an expensive ski world-cup race (Zagreb has a ski resort with a very limited capacity).
Although this article represents a critical review of a business decision, it is not supported by relevant research or market survey. I am personally convinced that, even in Cedevita’s “clothes”, Atlantic’s tea product line will have its success on the market, primarily due to excellent distribution and managing of sales channels, but also due to investments in other elements of marketing mix that make some product line successful, such as design, quality, pricing policy, promotion as well as management of costs of good sold.
And finally, I think that what happened to the former Pliva teas is the same that usually happens to user-oriented processes in companies with strong organizational silos. I believe that the experts from Atlantic started their considerations from their own organizational views when branding the line of teas, instead of stepping in the shoes of their consumers. I believe that the organizational view, in this case (as with every other silo), was narrow and was saying only one thing: “We are Cedevita organizational unit, and our teas are Cedevita teas”.
Notes to Text
Atlantic, Cedevita, Cedevita tea, Dietpharm are trademarks of Atlantic Group. Franck, Lipton and Twinings are trademarks of their respective owners. The text reflects personal conclusions of the author, and is by no way influenced by author’s current employer or any other third parties.
In case you use this text or its parts, please quote the author and the source (Alen Gojčeta, www.gojceta.com, June 2010).