Simon Mowbray
Procter & Gamble has performed a remarkable U-turn in the way it is planning to market its flagging soft drink brand Sunny D.
The fmcg giant plans to reposition the drink as a healthy alternative to other children's drinks, despite declaring in The Grocer just 12 months ago that to ever return to such a tack would be a "minefield".
However, the company said it believed consumers were now ready to hear its health message once again following extensive consumer research. A survey of almost 6,000 households showed that the 15% which consumed Sunny D had "significantly" increased their intake of vitamins.
P&G relaunched the drink in February 2002, upping its juice content from 5% to 15% following a barrage of criticism in the consumer press. However, it has failed to recapture anywhere near the £150m annual sales of its late 1990s heyday, last year selling under £41m according to Information Resources.
Sunny D brand manager Jon Lear insisted: "It is not a u-turn but returning to where we were in terms of the message."
However, experts are sceptical as to whether the change of heart can work. One buyer said: "They are desperately fighting to save this brand and it shows."
Julian Walford, MD of brand strategist Large, Smith & Walford, said: "It is going to be a long, hard struggle for them to turn public opinion around."