REV: DECEMBER 5, 2003
You remember the ‘80s, Philip? – Of course. God hated the ‘80s. – He didn’t like anything? He liked Snapple. – God liked Snapple? Not all the flavors. — From a 1998 episode of “Chicago Hope,” a network television drama
Arnie Greenberg, Leonard Marsh, and Hyman Golden had been friends since high school. In 1972, they went into business selling all-natural apple juice to health food stores in Greenwich Village under the brand name Snapple. By the late 1980s, their brand had achieved near-cult status on both coasts of the United States, with its iced teas particularly in demand. It had taken 15 years, they said, to become an overnight success. In 1994 Quaker bought Snapple for $1.7 billion. The vision had been to combine Snapple with Gatorade, an earlier and very successful acquisition, to form a powerful beverage business unit. Snapple, however, did not thrive: sales fell in each of the next four years, and in 1997 Quaker despaired and sold the brand to Triarc Beverages for $300 million. In the fallout that followed, both Quaker’s chairman of 16 years and its president resigned. Mike Weinstein, CEO of Triarc Beverage Group, reflected on the acquisition. “At $300 million, Snapple is not a steal by any means. It’s in decline, and when that happens to a brand it’s seldom that it comes back. We’re in a fashion business here, and when your imagery isn’t fashionable, often that’s the end. But we’ve talked to a lot of consumers and we did a lot of qualitative research, and we’ve decided that in this case the brand still has inherent strength. People feel good about it. It will respond to the right marketing stuff.”
Professor John Deighton prepared this case. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright © 1999 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business School.
1972–1986: The Origins of the Brand
Arnie Greenberg’s family ran a sardine and pickle store in Ridgewood in Queens, New York. His friends Leonard Marsh and Hyman Golden helped him in the store, and in turn he helped them to manage their window-washing business. In the climate of the 1960s, Arnie encouraged the family to stock health foods. The three saw the popularity of natural no-preservative fruit juices in the store, and teamed up with a California-based juice company to manufacture and distribute a bottled apple drink. Eventually they broke away from the California partner and founded their own company— Unadulterated Food Products—and the Snapple brand.1 “100% Natural” became Snapple’s mantra. The business grew slowly using internally generated funds. It outsourced production and product development and built a network of distributors across New York City. Where possible, it sought individual distributors working for their own account, and found as a result that the business needed to broaden the product line to keep distributors occupied. It added carbonated drinks, fruit-flavored iced teas, diet juices, seltzers, an isotonic sports drink, and even a Vitamin Supreme. Some succeeded and many failed, but premium pricing on the successful products covered losses on the failures. Revenues and profits grew with expansion of distribution into New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 1984 annual turnover was...