At the recent National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show here in Chicago, I got a chance to talk to Jones Soda's Stacey Donahue about the launch of their new 16 oz. cans.
The introduction of the cans took place at the NACS show as they are targeted at the convenience store market. It's a bit easier to get into the C-store world with cans vs. the traditional Jones Soda bottles, so this is a logical move. Initially, only 3 flavors will be offered, Green Apple, Berry Lemonade, and Strawberry Lime. Why these? Per the official press release, "these three flavors boast the highest sell-through rate among single glass bottles according to AC Nielsen syndicated data, which for the 13 weeks ending Sept. 3, showed these three SKUs were up 26% versus one year ago."
It's also important to note that 16 oz. cans aren't a strange size for Jones these days, given that their WhoopAss Energy Drink, WhoopAss Grapple, and Sugar Free WhoopAss are all packaged the same way.
Some may remember Jones' first foray into cans back in 2007, signing a deal with National Beverage to make 12 oz. canned versions of many of their flavors. However, this was a doomed initiative, as Jones struggled with distribution, marketing, and high costs associated with putting the canned items on mainstream store shelves.
While other problems were in play for the company, the move to 12 oz. cans was widely viewed as a "bad thing" that put Jones on dangerous financial ground. The company assumed that their premium beverage/pricing would translate into the can market, however, if you actually looked at the product they delivered, it pretty much resembled a store brand in appearance. It just didn't feel like something from Jones. Sales reflected that impression.
That seems to have changed with this latest can initiative. Just one look at the design and yes, this looks like a Jones Soda product! The fan-submitted photos are back… and I'm told they will be rotated out from time to time. The label design mimics that of the glass bottles. They just look fun overall.
The sales sheet I was given, targeted at retailers, also showed 6 flavors in 12 oz. cans: Zilch Black Cherry, Cream Soda, Cola, Berry Lemonade, Starwberry Lime, and Root Beer. These are probably targeted at C-stores and other markets as well, but the 16 oz. cans are really the story here.
As for the taste, I felt that they were pretty much in line with what you get with the bottled versions (though I was unable to do a side-by-side comparison). For example, Jones Strawberry Lime Soda still has that light red color and is very sweet with the use of cane sugar. The start of the drink is bitter, prompted by the lime, but it rounds out eventually when the strawberry kicks in. It's somewhat harsh, but in a good way.
Just the same, Jones Berry Lemonade Soda is light blue and also pretty sweet. "Puckery" is the name I'd throw at this drink, given the lemonade roots, but more soundly grounded in a berry flavor. It really does grab the back of your throat with a sour experience. In both cases, I didn't really taste that "aluminum" feeling you often get, but I'm sure mentally there are those who will still prefer the glass bottle.
The 16 oz. cans should be appearing now and are slated to be priced at $1.29 MSRP.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the nutritional contents in the 16 oz. cans…
Jones Strawberry Lime Soda
Carbonated water, inverted cane sugar, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, modified food starch, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (as preservatives), ester gum, Red 40, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor)
The new 16 oz. can contains 220 calories, 40 mg sodium, and 54 g carbs (52 g sugars). Caffeine free.
Jones Berry Lemonade Soda
Carbonated water, inverted cane sugar, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, modified food starch, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (as preservatives), ester gum, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor), Blue 1
16 oz. can contains 220 calories, 40 mg sodium, and 54 g carbs (52 g sugars). Caffeine free.
Official Website: JonesSoda.com