How Consumer Research Took La Croix on a Ride to the Top

A quantitative eye tracking study that proved a part of La Croix’s success is attributed to its ability to stand out on the shelf from other brands.

Few beverage brands have experienced a meteoric rise to ubiquity as quickly and extensively as La Croix sparkling water. A deliciously refreshing, zero calorie beverage that comes in a plethora of flavors, it provides welcome respite from a crowded beverage market full of sugary drinks and diet sodas that are quickly losing their appeal with health conscious youth. While La Croix is undeniably delicious and guilt-free (I personally drink 2-3 per day), there are many brands in the space that offer a similar beverage experience. So what is it about La Croix that helped it rise above the rest?

According to Meridianai Associates Inc, a consulting firm that helped with La Croix’s relaunch in the early 1990’s, La Croix’s packaging was essential in creating an approachable and accessible brand to contrast it with Perrier’s fancier image. It turns out that through their research with consumers, the eccentric label design liked least by executives was liked most by consumers and therefore selected. A great deal of La Croix’s success is attributed to its ability to stand out on the shelf from other brands, resulting in a huge win for La Croix and for consumer research (yay!).

Consumer research teams use the Sticky by Tobii Pro platform to run quick, quantitative eye tracking studies to evaluate new and existing package designs within a larger rebrand effort. Eye tracking provides valuable insight into shopper behavior and how to successfully position and design products in order to capture consumers’ attention. If they don’t see it, they can’t buy it. After reading about La Croix’s success, we asked ourselves, “Would the results of a 1-hour eye tracking study support the findings that came out of La Croix’s in-depth consumer research?”. To find out, we decided to run our own study on the Sticky platform.

 

 

Using our randomized shelf tool, we created a study comparing La Croix to 11 beverage competitors. 100 general population, opt-in participants were sent the study on their computers and their eye tracking sessions were recorded via their webcams. Each participant was exposed to the randomized shelf of 12 sparkling water and soda brands for 10 seconds, once with no direction and once directed to find La Croix. After fielding for an hour, the results were in and we were pleasantly surprised with what we found!

84% of participants saw the La Croix cans on the shelf, more than any other brand on the shelf. It took participants only 2.4 seconds to find La Croix, faster than every other brand except for Topo Chico (2.3 seconds). In the survey portion, 17% of the total participants found La Croix to be the most visually appealing packaging, the highest of all the brands on the shelf. La Croix had the 4th highest brand recall at 37% only behind three of the most recognizable soda brands: Coke, Pepsi, and Sprite.

 

 

Using our quantitative eye tracking data, we were able to conclude that our study not only reinforces La Croix’s initial qualitative findings but bolsters them: La Croix is by far the most visually engaging package among its competitors. No wonder they’re crushing it, way to go La Croix!

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3 responses to “How Consumer Research Took La Croix on a Ride to the Top

  1. This begs a number of questions, Joey. We assume that the location of La Croix in the 3 x 4 visual matrix is randomized? We assume that the find task comes after the “no direction” 10-second task? Is the 84% seeing it significantly higher than the other brands (like Coke)? I don’t think you mean it took them 2.4 seconds to find La Croix – I think you mean on average they looked at La Croix 2.4 seconds into the task. Is that 2.4 seconds significantly higher than the other brands’ times? Did you ask the appealing question after asking them to find the La Croix? If so, just a little bit of bias there, don’t you think – don’t have to be a rocket scientist at that point to figure out what you’re testing. You need a lot more data to make the claim that (a) their packaging is the most visually engaging and (b) that this has anything to do with brand sales.

  2. If the design was launched in 2002, but popularity didn’t explode until 2010, how can you attribute that explosion specifically to the design’s effect on POP/shelf differentiation? The design isn’t the variable that changed between 2002-2010. If anything, this situation suggests “findability” at POP is less important. Being seen doesn’t replace being wanted.

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