I LOHAS, a Japanese bottled water brand, needed to find a growth path in the face of tough competition from well-established competitors. In a market with little room for innovation, it had to find a game-changer. It did so with a powerful green campaign.
Japan’s bottled water segment traditionally offers little differentiation, with the dominant messages focusing on source and nature. I LOHAS decided to forsake the short-term gains from tactical marketing and instead create a sustainable campaign for long-term success. It knew that Japanese were disillusioned over the weak progress worldwide on environmental issues and about their inability to contribute. 94% said they desired to do something for the environment, although only 12% had changed their behaviour. The key initiative was to establish the People’s Eco Conference, which allowed citizens to make genuine commitments to change the world. This became the core of the campaign. I LOHAS also introduced a crushable PET bottle using plant-based materials – the first in Japan – and launched a double-size bottle and a lightweight package. It further expanded the number of local water sources in Japan to reduce its carbon footprint.
I LOHAS became the no.1 water brand in 2009. Since then it has more than doubled sales and now has 40% of the Japan water market. It also has eliminated 8,600 tonnes of CO2 and saved nearly 3 mega-litres of gasoline.