The craft beer industry is booming. But rather than fighting the trend, big brewers like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch are joining in and creating their own microbrews. Smaller, premium beverages bring a personalization to the drinking experience that mass-produced ones just can't match. Suddenly, what you pour says something about you. Oh-you ordered a Bud Light? I ordered a Three Floyds Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord.

Soda manufacturers have taken note. Pepsi recently launched a new "craft" soda dubbed Caleb's Kola, a name honoring the creator of the Pepsi formula. The Kola's ingredients echo the descriptors consumers would find on many of their favorite craft beers ... "citrus notes" ... "a blend of brown spices" ... "kola nut extract." The new brand even touts that its cane sugar is certified fair trade. Pepsi's rival, Coca-Cola, recently made an attempt at personalization with its "Share a Coke" campaign, where consumers could purchase a bottle with their name printed on it.

Will craft brews and personalization help soda giants win back a dwindling supply of customers? Very likely. As we look at the category, we see two customer segments driving the decline.

The "health conscious." These consumers are throwing out their sugar-saturated drinks in favor of more diet-conscious choices. Recently, we've seen both Coke and Pepsi offer new low-calorie drinks made with natural sweeteners, Coke Life and Pepsi True, respectively. School is still out on whether these line extensions are good or bad for the brands or the category. If history repeats, however, these line extensions will prove good in the short term and ineffective in the long term. In other words, they will slow the rate of category decline, but will do little to reverse it.

The second segment of consumer abandoning the mass soda category is what we call the "bored." Let's face it, mass soda has been around a long time with little or no change, other than Coke and Pepsi with sugar, without sugar, or with some variety of sugar substitute. Reinvention on a higher order is needed to arouse the interests of the "been there, done that" crowd.

Enter Caleb Kola. Pepsi's first artisanal soda. Is Pepsi's decision to branch off with new and exciting flavor profiles smart? We think so. Nothing gets people as excited as new flavors and tastes fitting their own profile. Also smart is Pepsi's decision NOT to put its name on the label. Look at the Caleb's Kola website, and you won't find Pepsi's logo or branding anywhere on it. This is good positioning. A brand (Pepsi) can only stand for one idea in the mind. Pepsi is mass cola. The brand can't stand for mass cola and micro soda at the same time.  The brand contradiction is too great. Also good positioning is Pepsi's initiative to lead rather than follow by creating a new category of artisanal soda, giving consumers the individual expression they crave. Being first to mind with their new idea sets them up to own the category.

"Oh-you ordered a Coke? I ordered a Caleb's Kola."

Viva la différence! Let the micro soda wars begin.

Innis Maggiore Case Study

Your new year's resolution? Find the right fit!
After champagne toasts and shaky renditions of Auld Lang Syne, the thought hits thousands of American bosses like a ton of bricks.

"I need to find employees who fit my organization's culture and who can make an impact on our bottom line."

Millions of Americans resolve to join a gym or become a better spouse, but these go-getters vow to enliven their workforces with better employees.

They need an executive search firm that takes a methodical and deliberate approach to finding the right fit for their companies. Innis Maggiore has worked with a client since 2012 that's just such a search firm.

Howard & O'Brien is the only executive search firm that focuses solely on finding the right fit for its clientele. The right fit can't be accomplished by mere chance. It takes a rigorous and proprietary process the firm calls its FIT³ formula. Formulate the Strategy, Investigate the Candidate and Transition the Executive.

From positioning strategy to a new logo and identity materials and from a new website (www.howardobrien.com) to new collateral materials, Innis Maggiore has pushed Howard & O'Brien's name and relevant, meaningful difference in front of those who need to hear about it. The positioning continues building momentum for the search firm.

If you're looking to bolster your workforce with the right executives, or even to find a new spot for yourself, make a resolution to get in touch with Howard & O'Brien today.