How Wonderful Co. Aims to Juice Up Online Sales 

By Dale Buss

POM Wonderful juice and e-commerce came of age at about the same time over the last 20 years. And lately they’ve been coming together in ways that boost awareness, marketing and sales for the Los Angeles-based company that pioneered pomegranate juice and its arsenal of antioxidants as a mainstream beverage.

Wonderful Co. – whose brands also include Wonderful Pistachios, FIJI water and a new line of lemon products – has a three-pronged digital program:

  • Selling POM Wonderful on Amazon and on the e-commerce sites of major bricks-and-mortar retailers including Walmart and Target
  • Plying POM Wonderful through social media
  • Working more and more with digital influencers who, for instance, include POM Wonderful in recipes and then share them with followers.

Digital sales of bulky single-serve beverages – the sweet spot for POM Wonderful – at this point remain among the least-penetrated categories of all CPGs. And at this point, e-commerce accounts only for less than 10 percent of POM Wonderful’s overall sales. But it has become a major point of emphasis these days.

“It’s an important touch point for sales and for people investigating the brand,” Charlotte Mostaed, director of marketing for POM Wonderful, told CPGmatters. “It’s a niche part, but it’s growing. That’s because a lot of people aren’t yet in the habit of buying groceries online. But it’s a growing segment.”

Awareness of POM Wonderful certainly isn’t much of a challenge anymore. In the 17 years since Stewart and Lynda Resnick introduced highly nutritious pomegranate juice to the U.S. market, POM Wonderful has become a mainstay of the better-for-you food revolution among consumers. It is getting American shoppers to accept the notion that vitamins and other antioxidants in the juice produce beneficial effects all over the body – and getting those shoppers to pay premium prices for the opportunity.

Of the overall growth in the super-premium juice category between 2016 and 2018, POM Wonderful accounted for nearly 7 percent, the company said, with sales of its 48-ounce SKU alone growing by more than $18 million during the period.

The brand hit a speed bump several years ago after the Federal Trade Commission decided that POM Wonderful was going too far in some of its health claims, such as purporting that the juice could treat, prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. The FTC began slapping POM’s wrist in 2010 and banned certain claims in the brand’s ads in 2013. The Resnicks went back-and-forth with the government until 2016, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the court ruling that upheld the FTC decision.

Since then, POM advertising has continued to emphasize the role of antioxidants in overall health, depicting them as “superpowers” that hunt and destroy “free radicals” in the human body that may damage cells. POM has emphasized that its 100-percent-pomegranate juice has four times the antioxidant potency of green tea and more antioxidant potency than cranberry juice, grape juice or red wine, according to an in vitro study by UCLA.

The brand has retained the freedom to point out the health benefits of POM Wonderful in some specific ways such as muscle-strength recovery, memory and cognition, and aging.

“We want people to understand the investigation we’ve done into health benefits,” Mostaed said. ”We are whole-pressing four pomegranates into every 16-ounce bottles, including the rind and the pit. You can’t eat the rind and the pit. So getting the juice is actually the best way to get those antioxidants.”

The brand’s latest digital and print campaign, under the tag line “Knock Out Free Radicals,” depicts bottles of POM Wonderful in various roles as a champion for the human body – for instance, as a boxer and as a knight. The new campaign also rejuvenates TV spots starring “The Worry Monsters” – inner voices of doom and gloom who complain that their once-unhealthy and fretful human hosts have started making healthier choices such as drinking POM Wonderful.

“Our new ads embody the protection aspect of antioxidants and what they do in the body in a visually compelling way,” Mostaed said. “Some of the insights that we’ve uncovered most recently are that a lot of people know they want antioxidants, and that’s one of our biggest attributes. But so many people don’t know what [antioxidants] do. And there’s a lot of noise out there – a lot of products claim to have them. So we want to enable people in a true search for antioxidant potency.”

The health-oriented mission and positioning of POM Wonderful are a natural fit for marketing online, where millions of Americans are continually researching new ideas for boosting their nutritional intake and overall well-being. POM Wonderful has found that paid social-media placements are “absolutely the place where we can find the right people,” Mostaed said. “The targeting capabilities of social media are just getting better and better.”

A new area for POM Wonderful is relying on social-media “influencers” such as mommy bloggers and foodies who are followed by thousands – or millions – on Instagram, Facebook and other sites.

“We’re working with them to get our message out there in their authentic voice,” Mostaed said. “We love partnering with them to help give inspiration to people to use our juice, and in ways they didn’t think of before, such as adding it to a smoothie or to a cocktail. “We want to find [influencers] who really are fans of the brand and can speak to it and its benefits. But you can’t be an influencer without people following you, so that’s something we look at.”

For example, POM Wonderful is working with a content creator named Tieghan Gerard, who just came out with a cookbook that has several recipes centering on the use of fresh pomegranates. POM Wonderful teamed with Gerard for an online promotion of her cookbook which also nicely coincided with pomegranate season, which is the fall.

Growing online marketing efforts naturally dovetail with e-commerce per se. POM Wonderful has set up a microsite on Amazon that discusses the benefits and attributes of its products and provides a way to buy juice.

POM Wonderful is looking for ways for e-commerce partners to promote a daily consumption habit, which is a key message of the brand’s marketing. So it has include special coupons and inserts in cases that it ships to consumers via e-commerce “about how to use POM more in their lives,” Mostaed explained. “We have so much research about the benefits based on drinking eight ounces a day” of the 100-percent pomegranate-juice variety; POM also sells some blends.

But e-commerce poses a couple of challenges for POM Wonderful. One of them is the fact that its refrigerated supply chain is crucial. “It must be kept cold so we can keep our promise to consumers of great quality,” Mostaed said.

Another challenge is that POM Wonderful wants to encourage consumers to purchase single-serve bottles as much as possible online just as the brand promotes that habit in bricks-and-mortar stores. “We’re continually working to try to get single-bottle purchases online that mimics in-store purchases,” she said. “The challenge is to do that while working with e-commerce vendors to offer our full assortment of sizes and varieties.

“We want to do both,” Mostaed said. “We have loyalists who want to buy a six-pack for the fridge. But for those who want to buy one bottle online with a basket of other things, we want to help them, too.”

                                                                        Mid-November 2019
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