Sodastream (SODA) machines are not a new product. They are based a concept dating back to 1903. They are doomed to repeat their rise and massive fall of the '80s, just as the novelty demand for “Frankie Says Relax” or “I shot JR” T-shirts dried up.
“Get busy with the fizzy”
In the '80s in England, Margaret Thatcher was in power, there were ongoing miner strikes, a Falklands war, along with many other crisis, money was in short supply in most homes. McDonalds (MCP) had not yet taken over the local chipper, and the British Commonwealth was in slow decline.
A History That Will Repeat itself
Sodastream appeared to help quench everyone’s thirst for soft drinks by offering a cheaper alternative than store bought cans and bottles. It is true that the hundreds of flavors were far from tasty, the Orange, Lime and Cola flavors were merely sucrose and food coloring and tasted nothing like their store bought counterparts. The systems were a blessing for some families in tough times. The ability to have the unique contoured bottle in your lunch pack gave some a feeling of superiority as their peers had a carton of milk or nothing at all. You took great care at lunch, if you broke the glass bottle, your parents would not buy a new one. Only three bottles came with the system.
As quickly as the economy recovered the soda stream systems sat on shelves collecting dust. Their growth in Europe again forged by continent that has been hit by the economic collapse but now with an added political specter hanging over the company.
New Design, New Marketing Strategy
Thirty years later they get a celebrity endorsement by way Scarlett Johannson, how can any man or woman resist any message delivered by such a loved personality. Now their concentrated syrups are geared at the more fitness orientated, health conscious and environmentally friendly. How many of us though about our carbon footprint in light of Scarlett’s message? “What Would Scarlett Do?” T-shirts at should have been sold.
SodaStream is Here in the US. So Whats Different Now?
SodaStream is under a very serious political pressure right now. Finland, Norway and Sweeden have all boycotted SodaStream Products manufactured in their parent plant in Mishor Adumim factory. Canadian religious and international human rights groups have ask for boycotts on all SodaStream products, citing Human Rights violations at plants and exploitation of employees.
SodaStream sold to Soda-club in 1998 and has previously been owned by Cadury Shweeppes. With Soda-Clubs aggressive marketing and environmental campaigns they seem to be creating an illusion that Chris Angel wouldn’t attempt, the smoke and mirrors are being dismantled.
While their market share and their 2010 launch on the NASDAQ echoed a new era for the company, how can they sustain their market share when its failed as model before.
An attractive spokesperson, a tug at the hearts for the environmentally aware, and an efficient healthy choice of syrup options will still not able to sustain long term as even without the political backlash and negative press the model did not succeed before.
Sodastream has had several advertising mishaps, a superbowl advertisement in 2013 was rejected as quickly as Janet Jackson excuse of wardrobe malfunctions due to their direct reference to Coke and Pepsi.
The novelty of SodaStream along with political package that can be debated ad infinitum will eventually wear thin. The fitness crowd will simply turn to alternatives, the environmental groups will soon catch wind of the Human Rights allegations, and the households on shoestring budgets will just not bother getting a new gas cylinder eventually.