AriZona Beverages, the makers of all those drinks you’ve seen in the colorful bottles at the local grocery store, announced last week that it reached three million Facebook fans. So what, right?
Well, the company, a privately-held family-run operation based out of New York, has never advertised in the 20 years it has been around. So having a dedicated, loyal, and large social media following is important. Rather than advertising, AriZona chooses to interact with its customers in a different way, which has become part of the decision-making process for beverage flavors and packaging.
We choose to “involve our fans in our products,” says Jackie Harrigan, the company’s comms director.
“Our product is accessible, at a great price point, and has beautiful packaging,” she continued. “We use our dollars for packaging and flavors that stand out on shelves instead of a traditional media budget.”
Besides the activity on Facebook and Twitter (the company has more than 38,000 Twitter followers), the company has an AZ Lounge on its website, where they’re looking for drawings, music, and stories from artists and fans. Harrigan says that artists use the platform to reach the company’s millions of social media followers.
For its 20th anniversary, coming March 5, the company will launch a social media program that will invite fans to suggest a special flavor and package design that fans will also be voting on.
“There’s a conversation there, a unique one between us as a brand and our fans,” she says.
Still, we hear often from companies about how they have a special relationship with their passionate customers. We question how passionate one can really be about iced tea. AriZona’s approach has less to do with beverage adoration as being eye-catching, interactive, and top-of-mind with consumers.
“We’re taking things that they’re thinking about the brand and creating products that they’re asking for in the marketplace,” says Harrigan.
Interestingly, Harrigan says she hears often from people who say they would swear they’ve seen an AriZona ad. We actually said that to her when we had her on the phone this morning. “They’re so used to seeing our packaging sticking out on the shelves or the stickers at their local bodegas, gas stations and supermarkets. Or the stickers that [retailers are] putting on their doors and windows,” she explained. Retailers, she says, do that voluntarily.
Moreover, when fans get an update on their social media feeds about new flavors and products, “it starts a conversation, a trickle effect” that lasts when that customer heads over to the store and sees the product and decides to make the purchase.
In that way, she agrees with the results from the study we posted earlier this week, finding that Facebook and Twitter are impacting the way people eat.
“I think it’s definitely helping the culinary community, and everyone else, in starting a conversation and embedding products in people minds,” she says.