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Beyond Flavor: How Soda's Success Thrives off Marketing Strategy

Written by Ava Girardi

Media Analytics Executive


Coca-Cola and Pepsi have long been beloved by fans of diet soda and those seeking a "healthier" alternative among soda enthusiasts. However, emerging brands like poppi, a soda brand that does not capitalize the first letter in its name, are now revolutionizing the soda industry, not only with their refreshing beverages but also through innovative marketing campaigns. These brands are championing sodas with wholesome, cleaner ingredients, offering consumers a healthier choice.


Poppi was invented by Alison Ellsworth along with her husband Stephen in April 2020, right at the onset of the pandemic, when she and her husband loved soda but were looking for a healthier option. Alison loved the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, especially the way it made her feel physically, but the taste? Not so much. This is when she decided to experiment with her husband in the kitchen to make it taste better and more enjoyable. In order to do this, she used various fruit juices, and just like that, a new and healthier soda option was added to the market known as poppi. Wondering what makes this soda different? When we think of soda, there definitely is a negative connotation around it, especially around its sugar content. However, poppi brings back the positive around soda again with its simple ingredients, such as only 5 grams of organic cane sugar. Some other additional ingredients are fruit juice, apple cider vinegar, and agave inulin for gut health. There seems to be a flavor for everyone with its multiple flavors, including Raspberry Rose, Wild Berry, Orange, and Grape, that mimic some of the most popular soda flavors.


However, it's not just about the soda's taste or its healthier take on classic flavors. Poppi's success also stems from its strong marketing efforts, particularly evident through multiple campaigns across all its social media platforms, culminating in its debut commercial during the 2024 Super Bowl. Identifying its target audience early on, poppi strategically used platforms like TikTok, where its first video gathered an impressive 110.7 million views as of now since 2021, igniting a viral sensation. Recognizing the platform's potential, Poppi integrated TikTok into its marketing strategy, resulting in a significant boost in sales following the video's release. This surge translated into a remarkable 200% increase in sales over the following three days, with January's total sales soaring by 140% compared to the average month and an 81% month-over-month increase. While poppi initially relied heavily on TikTok for its marketing, co-founder Ellsworth acknowledged the platform's unexpected impact and allocated resources to produce more engaging short-form content. Collaborating with content creators, influencers, and celebrities who endorse poppi, the brand expanded its marketing strategy to include giveaways, mocktail recipes, flavor announcements, and personal messages from co-founder Allison. This strategic shift propelled Poppi's marketing strategy, as evidenced by the #drinkpoppi hashtag amassing over 1 billion views on TikTok, solidifying its status as a trendy, influencer-driven brand. Despite its TikTok-centric approach in the past three years, Poppi now aims to broaden its reach beyond the platform and engage with a wider audience.


Although the brand has previously leaned on TikTok to endorse its products through influencers and celebrities, as well as engaging in trends, it has now opted to diversify its approach by embracing alternative platforms beyond video content. poppi's strategy extends beyond mere soda promotion. Instead, it prioritizes establishing a rapport with soda consumers and presenting a genuine personality through Allison as the face of the brand. Particularly this year, the brand has grown more at ease with broadening its reach on Instagram, notably through two significant campaigns.

Through the "Soda's Back" marketing initiative, poppi has effectively expanded its reach beyond its existing 500k TikTok followers. During this campaign, Ellsworth expressed her desire to elevate the brand's presence through out-of-home advertising and collaborations with TV streaming platforms. Utilizing consumer and content creator reactions to poppi across various social media platforms, the brand embarked on a real-world, multimillion-dollar omnichannel campaign. This involved showcasing social media posts from consumers directly sent to the company through various platforms, including tweets, email conversations, and visuals. Thirty social media creators who are either past collaborators with poppi or regular brand promoters were highlighted during this campaign, which ran from July to September 2023. The campaign featured poppi's vibrant colors and influencer imagery on billboards nationwide, including in Atlanta, where Pepsi is headquartered, with five separate billboards dedicated to the brand. Additionally, the imagery was displayed on Amazon, Instacart, and in-store displays in supermarkets like Whole Foods. Through this initiative, poppi aimed to adopt a fresh approach, celebrating its lively community and allowing a wider audience to experience the brand's communal essence beyond its social media followers.


Another innovative marketing approach by poppi was its Wild Berry Pop-Mart event, strategically held just weeks before the Super Bowl, where the brand's inaugural national commercial would debut. To herald the launch of its newest flavor and corresponding campaign, poppi's co-founder inaugurated a temporary convenience store in Los Angeles dubbed Poppi-Mart, operating from January 26 to 28. The event's futuristic theme provided a glimpse into poppi's vision for the future of soda. Leading up to Poppi-Mart, the brand rolled out a 360 marketing campaign titled "The Future of Soda," showcased on billboards and social media posts, building anticipation and enticing fans and customers to experience the launch firsthand. Even prior to the pop-up's commencement, poppi initiated engagement across social media platforms by hosting a star-studded party attended by notable figures like Paris Hilton. By the event's conclusion, it had generated 1,000 organic social posts and 700 creator posts from the supportive influencer community. These initiatives demonstrate poppi's commitment to pioneering marketing strategies, transcending mere soda promotion to cultivate a vibrant brand community. Led by Allison and her team, poppi encourages fans to actively participate on social media, fostering a collaborative environment that normalizes the consumption of healthier soda alternatives.

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