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    A Snappier Look for Snapple

    Sleeker packaging and a reformulated flavor aim to boost weak U.S. sales of the teas.

    PLANO, Texas -- Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., the beverage business spun off from Cadbury Plc this spring, is revamping Snapple's look and tweaking the formulation of the teas to try and revive consumer interest, as tightened wallets and discounting by competitors have cut into its sales, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    Far from the corny ads and other ploys that catapulted the drink to cultlike status in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Snapple's current owner plans a more homespun campaign for the teas, emphasizing the drink's health benefits, the newspaper said.

    By year-end, Snapple tea will come in a sleeker 16-ounce glass bottle with a label describing the drink as "All Natural," noting it is brewed from both green and black tea leaves, and stressing a slogan it has used for years, "Made from the best stuff on Earth." The beverage will be reformulated to contain sugar to improve the flavor rather than high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener derided by some consumers as unnatural. Snapple juices and lemonades are also getting new bottles and labels.

    Dr Pepper Snapple believes consumers may have overlooked Snapple tea's health ingredients at a time when interest in tea's benefits has grown sharply. "Over the years, we lost the health halo," Jim Trebilcock, Dr Pepper Snapple's executive vice president of marketing, acknowledged in a recent interview.

    The Snapple brand was launched in 1972, tea made its debut in 1987, and Cadbury purchased the drinks, along with other brands, from Triarc Cos. in 2000.

    The brand urgently needs a jolt, according to The Wall Street Journal report. Snapple and other premium drinks played a major role in the company's 31 percent drop in third-quarter profit. Volume—a measure of the amount of liquid sold—fell 10 percent in the quarter for Snapple teas and juices, the company said.

    In the weak economy, "we're seeing consumers either trade down to value products or trade out altogether," Larry Young, Dr Pepper Snapple's president and chief executive officer, noted in a recent conference call with investors and analysts.

    Snapple's success is critical for Dr Pepper Snapple, which needs to diversify its portfolio heavily dominated by slow-growing carbonated soft drinks. The company also derives higher revenue per case from Snapple and similar drinks than from soft drinks.

    Trebilcock said Snapple's marketing shift to emphasize health won't hurt the brand's image. "We're still Snapple. We take our product seriously, not ourselves."

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