Under the umbrella of PepsiCo. since last November, Azusa, Calif.-based Naked Juice is busy getting dressed for success.
“We now get to leverage all the expertise that a world-class organization like PepsiCo can bring us,” said Rachel Kenney, the company's public relations and education manager. “So it helps us get our message, our mantra, our juices — our everything — out to more consumers.”
Innovation helped Naked Juice pass the $150 million mark in sales last year. Unlike competitors, which have jumped categories, Naked Juice has kept its focus solely on healthful beverages. The company's six lines are built around particular benefits, such as antioxidants, protein and energy.
“There are so many other functional areas of juice that we can go to,” Kenney said.
The mere image of fresh juices and smoothies might be enough to convince consumers of the products' worth, but Naked Juice is seeking sound science behind the label. A year ago, the company convened the Naked Juice Science Advisory Board, comprising seven research professors from top universities, each specializing in a different area of expertise. The SAB will assist Naked Juice's research and development section by sharing ingredient trends and research findings.
“Innovation is one of the pillars of the company,” Kenney said of the SAB's role. “There's not a fruit in the world we don't know about, but they bring us the scientific connections.”
Naked Juice spends very little on conventional advertising methods. Instead, it opts to use a grass-roots approach and enlist consumers as “brand evangelists” at public events like walkathons and community fund-raisers. The marketing strategy, still under development, will likely get a touch of mainstreaming from corporate parent PepsiCo. But it's been successful on its own, too. The brand, No. 2 behind Coke-owned Odwalla, grew 74% last year, according to IRI. Screwy, off-kilter events like last September's mock “Fruit Will Set You Free” protest in Chicago, have helped raise brand awareness in an unconventional way.
Earlier this year, PepsiCo also acquired Izze Beverages and Stacy's Pita Chips to round out its good-for-you offerings.