How PepsiCo is Reinventing a Category with Bubly

Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

Innovation is the hottest business buzzword, evoking images of bold tech startups taking dangerous risks to upend the sleeping giants. But what if you are the giant, or you're in a traditional business such as hospital linens, automotive parts, or commercial food service? Can mature industries and businesses innovate forward, or is creativity only relegated to hoodie-strewn 20-somethings?

Few industries are as large, mature, and traditional as carbonated beverages. The duopoly of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, along with a handful of other large followers, dominates the category. So it would only seem fitting that the next disruptive innovation would come from a Silicon Valley startup rather than from within. But the folks at PepsiCo are proving that old dogs can not only learn, but invent new tricks.

Enter Bubly, the breakaway beverage hit invented from within the storied halls of an industry leader. Bubly is flavored sparkling water, but with a big personality. Bold flavors and funky cans have intoxicated consumers and allowed PepsiCo to beat their revenue forecasts, to the surprise of Wall Street's cynical analysts.

While the product itself is very good, flavored bubbly water isn't a breakthrough. What makes Bubly special is the brand, design, and experience. Shouting fun from across the grocery store aisle, 12-pack boxes display smiles and retro mustaches rather than "buy now" incentives. Atop each aluminum can is a color-coordinated pull tab, with inviting phrases such as a "hiya" and "hey you." I spoke to a senior procurement executive who told me that those colorful, custom pull-tabs add considerably to the packaging cost. But investing in a vivid customer experience is what's driven this newcomer beverage into the stratosphere of success.

In your own business, are you offering customers the basics in a dull aluminum can, or are you delivering a "Bubly" experience? Exploring how your product or service is consumed with all five senses - at every touch point of the customer experience - is a heat map of opportunity to gain competitive advantage and delight those your serve. Look for your own version of the colorful pull-tab, which may require a few pennies of investment but can yield a Fort Knox size return.

In the crowded, commoditized, fiercely competitive world of carbonated beverages, PepsiCo's innovation proves that we can all find new paths to win. Bubly is now one of the top sellers in grocery stores around the country, as corporate execs and investors are grinning just as much as those gorgeous, smiley Bubly cans.

The new brand - launched by an industry giant – is fun, vibrant, and irresistible. Discover your own Bubly in your business, and you'll soon be raising a glass of bubbly to celebrate profound success.

The post How PepsiCo is Reinventing a Category with Bubly appeared first on Josh Linkner.

Ayal Lanternari was facing the same angst and frustration that millions of other parents endure. His infant son was crying for food in the middle of the night, creating an agonizing moment for both dad and child while the bottle was heating to the proper temperature. Since baby milk can't be microwaved or heated directly without losing the nu...
Read More
Fender Guitar's Rules of Groundbreaking Innovation
Since Leo Fender started making guitars back in 1946, the Fender name has become synonymous with musical innovation.The iconic brand has outfitted countless music legends with their precious axes, and has set the standard with instantly recognizable inventions including the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster. Today, Fender is the large...
Read More
Do It Anyway
Born in 1914 in Austria, actress Hedy Lamarr was the personification of glamor. Discovered for her beauty in her teens, she dazzled audiences from the silver screen for decades. At 19, she raised eyebrows by doing what is believed to be one of the first nude sex scenes in a movie. The film was banned by Hitler, and became a widespread controver...
Read More
Why a Culture of Innovation is the Only Path to Sustainable Growth and Success
You've fine-tuned your processes, extracted every drop of cost from the system, and are meeting basic customer needs. In the previous era of business, strict managerial controls may have been enough, but today running a tight ship is table stakes. If we're honest with ourselves, business as usual likely poses an existential threat – sooner than...
Read More
The 14 Rules of History-Making Teams
It's often been said that "culture eats strategy for breakfast." The notion is that the belief system - or core operating principles - of an organization are what matters most at the ground level. These core beliefs guide everyday decision-making, behavior, and responses to challenges. Clearly defined core values permeate every corner of a comp...
Read More
Lady Gaga's First Song; Picasso's First Painting
At the age of four, Lady Gaga wasn't bringing down the house for 30,000 roaring fans. In fact, Stefani Germanotta didn't even become the Gaga we know until she'd studied and practiced music for years. Just like every other kid who picks up an instrument, she took up piano and plunked out an uneven version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Pablo P...
Read More
Skip the Resolution; Go With a New Year's Theme instead
The last week of December marks the creation of uncountable New Year's resolutions. By the end of next month, however, the vast majority will be broken. So many of us resolve to change, only to have those commitments meet an untimely death. A single, small temptation can lead us astray, causing us to conclude that our resolutions are anything bu...
Read More
The Tyranny of Good Enough
Your chicken salad sandwich wasn't bad, really. It was 'good enough.' The service wasn't speedy, but also wasn't horribly slow. It was just good enough. The environment was a bit messy and a tad dirty, but didn’t justify a call to the Health Department. "I guess it was good enough," you mutter as you leave the mediocre restaurant. While the chef...
Read More
The Power of Surprise and Delight
Following the polite knock on my hotel room door, I was stunned. "Just a little something to welcome you to our hotel," said the smiling and well-appointed young man as he placed it down on the desk in my room. The beautiful display included a chocolate guitar, hand-dipped strawberries, and a few other candies. Along with some musical notes, th...
Read More
Heads Down vs. Heads Up
We've all heard people in the business world proclaim that they are "heads down" on a project. Or that they are unable to explore new opportunities since they are "heads down in execution mode." Consider, for a moment, the advantages of being "heads up" instead. Let's compare the two states of being: Heads Down Focused on delivery Tuning out dis...
Read More