MiO brand liquid water enhancers – Killer Concept, but Terrible Trial

Kraft’s new MiO brand liquid water enhancers are a fantastic idea, but sadly, so disappointing in reality.   Kraft is touting it as their first major brand launch since DiGiorno in 1995, to capitalize on the  $10 billion bottled water market.   Unfortunately,  it’s a great example of how even the best innovations will languish, if you overlook some execution basics.

The innovation concept itself is so promising. Leveraging their flavored beverage brilliance (Kool-Aid and Crystal Light), Kraft positioned MiO as a revolutionary, more contemporary portable water additive. The name is great – connoting personalization and a clever play on H2O. The launch plan was spectacular, heavy traditional and social media support creating cult awareness before the product even reached stores. Teenagers were begging their parents to get some; it doesn’t get much better than that in marketing.   MiO had stellar packaging and product displays – unique, eye-catching, and shaped like a water drop.

The television advertising campaign is exceptional too – clearly positioned the product as revolutionary, consumer-customizable, and thirst quenching.   Brilliant use of music (“That’s the way I like it”) reinforcing the customization benefit, and solid media plan to ensure the target market was aware of this
new product.

A nearly flawless product launch…. uh…. except…..

1) Distribution was spotty.     In many major metro markets, where the traditional and social media campaigns had successfully built demand, the consumer couldn’t find it in their stores.    It wasn’t there yet.   Millions of dollars wasted…
2) Consumers can’t find it when it IS in the store.     Consumers don’t know where ‘liquid water enhancers’ are located within stores, nor do they want to invest time hunting for it.
3) It tastes bad.    Game over.    Particularly disappointing taste experience compared to the compelling promises in the advertising.
4) Niche flavors.    Berry Pomegranate, Mango Peach, Peach Tea, Fruit Punch, Strawberry Watermelon, and Sweet Tea.  While an interesting line-up, which of these are drink daily/high volume flavors?

Oh MiO, we’re disappointed… and know you will be too.

Lessons Learned:
1)   A great idea is only as good as it is executed.    Make sure you have a great concept and great delivery of that concept to consumers, to succeed at innovation.
2)  Every product category has one or two major expectations that are deal-breakers.    In food and beverage… duh… it better taste good.
3)  Make sure your product is available before you waste a dime building demand.    Why would you pay to disappoint a new customer?
4)  Make sure your consumers can, and will, easily locate your product.   Tell them where to find it, if necessary.
5)  Cover the predictably high volume sku’s in your product assortment.    Small twists and variations on staples are often big winners.  Don’t just offer several ‘unique’ but low-volume items.

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