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Crystal Geyser Label II

Remember What You're Paying for This Free Advice

All right, you’ve had your fun, you say. You’ve teased the folks at Crystal Geyser with yesterday's posting, so what would you do if your water was being sold in the discounter stores for pennies, Mr. Smart Guy?

I’m glad you asked. First, a disclaimer. I’ve never worked for Crystal Geyser or any of its competitors, although I did put myself through school working at a local Coca-Cola bottler. But this was before the days of Dasani.

I’ll also say that I have no special knowledge of the bottled water industry and I don’t know anything specific about how they target their markets.

However, if my brand had lost so much traction that I felt obliged to sell my products at Big Lots, I would take that as a sign that it was time to rethink my brand.

I hereby offer four ‘strategeries’ for rehydrating the Crystal Geyser brand, free of charge. It’s my pleasure. After all you’ve given me an awful lot of budget-priced water.

Really embrace the cause. Unless the relationship is not working, a five-year deal with America Forests is silly. Make it an ongoing relationship, and make American Forests a part of the Crystal Geyser culture the way City Year is with Timberland. Or, like Yoplait and Susan G. Komen.

Also, the pledge to plant 50,000 trees a year has no meaning. I couldn’t find any mention on either the Crystal Geyser or American Forests website of how much carbon dioxide those 250,000 trees will soak up now or over time. Or, how much erosion those trees will prevent. Why is that kind information so conspicuously absent?

Tie the number of trees planted to something specific and meaningful. For instance, you could figure out how much carbon monoxide is released from the company trucks each year and plant enough trees to obviate that. Add in the carbon monoxide from all the vehicles your employees drive, too. Or, you could figure out how much groundwater is recharged thanks to the anti-erosion power of the trees you’re planting. Those kinds of numbers are definitely promotable and could help you step away from your competitors.

Go guerilla and drag American Forests along with you. Remember that plot of land in Los Angeles that was being reclaimed from inner-city gardeneners by its owner? Every enviro-actor within a 100 miles of LA was all over that. Imagine if one night you during the course of the hubbub if you and your buddies from American Forests climbed the fence and planted five fruit or nut trees or 20 or 100, took pictures, then issued a smart-aleck press release about it the next morning.

Get into events and tie it all back to the cause. The great advantage of events is that they can directly influence sales. Find something that caters to active people. You could go the elite athlete route with the Ironman or something like that. But that’s probably out of your price range. Instead pick something like the Wasatch Back Relay or its sister races, the Del Sol or the Great River Relay. As a condition of sponsorship you could ask that the relay teams do some tree-planting along the race route. My friends Dan Hill and Tanner Bell at Ragnar Relay have more races in the works, but the three they have are a terrific start. Contact them at: dan@ragnarrelay.com and tanner@ragnarrelay.com.

Reposition with a radical repackaging. This is last and the most radical strategery. But it could also promises the greatest payoff. Be the first major water bottler to switch to a plant-based plastic that biodegrades. How much more would each bottle cost? Even if it was 10 cents more per bottle than Crystal Geyser is paying now, they could certainly charge 50 cents more per bottle.

Waste disposal is already a monstrous issue in this country. And packaging something that already comes out of most people's taps and then shipping it hundreds of miles away so that it can clog someone else’s landfill is the elephant in the living room.

Moreover, I’m beginning to hear whispers that maybe water in petro-plastics isn’t such a good idea because they may leach potentially harmful chemicals. Maybe that won't prove to be the case, but no matter. Take the high road and sell your water in containers that won’t outlast the cockroaches.

Now, maybe the science isn’t there yet. Or maybe the water in a biodegradable bottle would have only a shelf-life of months, not the years and years of petro-plastics. If so, learn a lesson from the salty snack folks who initially bemoaned the switch away from trans-fats because it would shorten shelf-life. Hello! As a consumer I don’t want to eat ‘Cheese Spoodles’ that will stay “fresh” until the Cubs finally win the pennant. Now that the major salty snack manufacturers have all switched from trans-fats, I haven’t heard any more complaints. Could it be that the shorter shelf life forces more inventory turns?

That's it. Just remember what you're paying for this free advice.

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