By Ray Latif
Profitable and continuing to evolve, Zola’s restaged “Fruits of the World” platform and rapid ascension as a player in the coconut water category have positioned the company for sustained growth in both natural and mainstream retail channels. With the pieces in place, founder Chris Cuvelier and his team are pushing forward — and not looking back.
“We’ve got our heads down, and we’re in execution mode,” Cuvelier said in a recent interview with BevNET CEO John Craven.
Zola, which has long held a leadership position in Acai berry drinks, entered the coconut water category in early 2012 and launched with a 17.5 oz. can of not-from-concentrate coconut water. The product quickly of not from concentrate coconut water and 1 L Tetra Pak.
“It’s gone really well for us,” Cuvelier said. “We got into coconut water fairly late. We took a very strategic approach to how we got into the business, and we’ve been able to build some success stories and get some market share, and, today, it’s a pretty big part of our business.”
Zola subsequently launched a pulp-infused coconut water variety in late 2012, and last month introduced an espresso flavor. While coconut water has been a significant boon for Zola, Cuvelier believes that there remains a growth opportunity for Acai in some channels, and noted that the company wants to sell its acai and coconut water products as part of the overall brand family.
“For us, we really want to make sure that we’re driving sales for the brand, the category and our retailers,” Cuvelier said. “And so we try to add SKUs that we think are going to be incremental.”
As for its transition from a tagline (and brand proposition) of “Brazilian Superfruits” to “Fruits of the World,” Cuvelier explained that while the company has its hands full with Acai and coconut water, Zolal remains keenly aware of other opportunities in the expanding market for exotic and emerging ingredients.
“The way we set up the brand platform is that if there’s another fruit down the road that we think has some legs and we think we can gain some sort of competitive advantage, then we could bring that into the brand,” Cuvelier said. “As entrepreneurs, we’re always tinkering with things and have things down in our basement.”
In this video filmed at Zola headquarters in San Francisco, Cuvelier offers much more on the company’s foray into coconut water as well as why Zola will continue to lean on Acai as a major segment of its business. Cuvelier also discusses the evolution of its brand footprint as it relates to the grocery channel and its strategic approach to new distribution amid a highly-competitive coconut water category. Cuvelier also shares details about a successful integrated marketing program in its local market that Zola hopes to duplicate in other regions around the country.