Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner - who started his career as a jazz guitarist - personifies creativity, entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation. He has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold...

How PepsiCo is Reinventing a Category with Bubly

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.

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