Lopsiding more for less, how AriZona Iced Tea stole Snapple’s juice…

It was 1992 and Snapple was king. The New York brand was named after the portmanteau of Snappy and Apple. The inspiration came from fermentation in an early apple cider that had caused caps to fly off.

Snapple introduced its first iced tea in 1987. In five years it was leading this new segment of the beverage market.

The Snapple Lady was doing quirky commercials, Howard Stern was a pitchman, and budding tennis star Jennifer Capriati was signed to an endorsement deal.

Was there room for another Tea brand? How could you compete with the quirky leader with facts under every popping cap?

Enter the Don from Long Island. AriZona Bottling co-founder Don Vultaggio was formerly a beer distributor. He drew inspiration from tall boy Schlitz beer cans to challenge rival Snapple.

In a classic Pink Goldfish move, he lopsided some aspects of the product, leveraged withholding, and added some micro-weirdness as well.

AriZona’s large 23 ounce iced tea was launched in 1992. It cost 99 cents. To put that price in perspective . . . that was nearly the price for a gallon of gas.

30 years later the price is still the same.

“99 cents is a hot number and because of that we get a lot of attention at retail” says Vultaggio.

It’s not easy to stay the course with this strategy.

Faster production lines, shipping at night, using 50% less aluminum in the can, lighter boxes, and more facilities have helped to keep costs down over the decades.

Part of their strategy means doing less of what others do as normal. Vultaggio shared to CNN,

“A lot of large companies use advertising as their vehicle to get shelf space and consumer awareness. We use packaging, a value story, and a great product inside.”

That’s why you won’t find any random celebrities hawking AriZona IcedTea.

How about those weird designs on the packaging? Credit Don’s wife Ilene for the pastels and the southwestern motif. He shared with Forbes, “Pastels had never really been used at that point. It was attractive — but, more importantly, different.” 

It took less than a decade and AriZona was bigger than Snapple.

Even in the midst of our current record inflation, AriZona is committed to keeping the price at 99 cents. Last year the brand sold a billion cans of the 99-cent variety.

Fans of the brand have said, “This is the most stable relationship I’ve ever had!”

How are you lopsiding and/or withholding to stand out in the marketplace?

Lagniappe: Perhaps the only greater “more for less” story comes from Costco Wholesale. Since 1985, you can buy a quarter-pounder hot dog with all the fixings and a 24-oz soda for a mere $1.50.

In a third-quarter earnings call, Costco quelled any rumors about raising food court prices. It may go beyond good business. Founder Jim Sinegal once told current CEO Craig Jelinek, “If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you.”

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Stan Phelps

Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

Find Stan’s in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops, and Goldfish tank programs at StanPhelps.com.