April 02, 2012

Review: Soda Magic

Description: A soda maker
Main Pitch: "Turns any drink into super-duper fizzy fun"
Main Offer: $39.99 for the complete kit (25% off online)
Bonus: Fizzy drink guide
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.BuySodaMagic.com
Prediction: On the fence

This project seeks to capitalize on the apparent retail success of Soda Stream, a $130 machine that allows people to make healthy sodas at home. This is the 'poor man's version' or, to be more kind, the 'value version.' Actually, that's not entirely fair. The creative team went the extra step here and re-positioned the product to make it more about family and fun than healthy soda. In my opinion, it's a much better approach for DR. More on that later ...

First, a word about Soda Stream: My gut tells me it has people fooled. I've seen this before. Heavy promotion can create a false sense of success, and rumors of high dollar sales need to be tempered with an understanding of relativity. Some successes are narrow and deep, while others are broad and shallow. We live at the shallow end of the pool. Cut the price of a $130 solution to $40 and you give it a 'mass' price, but you also need to sell three times as many units. When you are talking about a niche market (e.g. people who care about healthy soda enough to make their own at home), that can be difficult. There may not be enough prospects to sustain that kind of volume.

That brings me back to this product and the way the creative team has positioned it. On the bright side, making this about family and fun gives the idea mass-market appeal. However, it also plays down the problem this product solves (unhealthy soda), which diminishes its appeal among the core audience. The only shot the product has is what Mr. Miller has called "pester power." If kids pester their parents for this because it's that cool (and my inner child feels it just may be), this one will sell -- and for very different reasons than Soda Stream is selling.

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