Drinkfinity’s Yamile Elías: “Our Vision Is to Break the Traditional Model and Rethink How People Drink”

What: We talked to Yamile Elias, Head of Marketing of the Drinkfinity brand at PepsiCo, to find out more about the marketing strategies behind this new product.
Why it matters: There is an ongoing tension between online and physical retail. Products like Drinkfinity could set a new trend for other brands to follow.

 In the last months, we've heard all sorts of things related to how e-commerce has arrived to push physical retail aside. While some are certain that this is the case, others agree that there'll never be a time when consumers choose not to go to a physical store, or at least not in the foreseeable future. When Amazon Go opened in January and Walmart started increasing its e-commerce efforts, new studies needed to be carried out to see where retail is going. According to the Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, even though Amazon is growing, e-commerce accounted for only 9% of retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2017.

However, there is an idea that buying a product that is only available online means the product is extraordinary, precisely because it can't be found in stores. Drinkfinity, the new beverage concept by PepsiCo, has greatly succeeded in the U.S. and Brazilian markets. With its sleek design and its system of disposable pods, Drinkfinity looks like it's been taken out of a dystopian-future movie. We at Portada talked to Yamile Elias, Head of Marketing at Drinkfinity and member of Portada's Brand Star Committee, to find out more.

 

Portada: What market needs is Drinkfinity fulfilling? What is the inspiration behind this product?

Yamile Elias: "Drinkfinity began with a vision. A vision to create the ultimate customizable beverage for the future. A vision to balance the needs of people and our planet. A vision to break the traditional model and rethink the way people drink. It is a transformational beverage innovation that delivers on some of the most prevalent consumer trends today: desire for choice, health & wellness, personalization, and sustainability.

Not only do consumers want options, they focus on being healthy to feel well. Increasingly people want to know what it is on the products they purchase and how they are made. Moreover, consumers want to buy brands that align with their values and beliefs, and they want a product that is personalized."

Increasingly people want to know what it is on the products they purchase and how they are made.

Portada: Competition in the healthy beverages sector is becoming more difficult, how do you plan to stay on top?

Y.E.: "Drinkfinity is special because it allows people to choose their unique beverages to suit their individual lifestyle. It embraces the way people live and enables them to do more, making the most out of every moment with four different Modes to answer people’s multifaceted needs throughout their entire day; there’s a Pod that’s perfect for every mood.

All Pods are less than 100 calories per serving, and they feature unique combinations of high-quality dry and liquid ingredients. The Drinkfinity platform is ready to meet consumer preferences and trends, and to potentially incorporate super fruits, grains, and seeds into the beverages in the future."

Portada: How is Drinkfinity contributing to solving pressing environmental issues?

Y.E.: "Our vision is to produce Drinkfinity Pods with the smallest possible environmental footprint. Each Drinkfinity vessel is BPA-free, reusable and dishwasher safe. Also, Drinkfinity Pods currently use up to 65% less plastic than a comparable 20 oz ready-to-drink beverage bottle, and they show a 40 percent savings in lifecycle greenhouse gas impacts compared to a 20 oz RTD beverage. Moreover, our partnership with Water.org helps provide safe water in developing countries. We will continue to look for opportunities to expand our efforts supporting communities around the world."

Portada: Who is Drinkfinity's main target? 

Y.E.: "Drinkfinity was created with the modern consumer in mind. They are doing their best to be in tune with their bodies and the world around them. The product answers consumers’ passion for choice, well-being, and personalization. We call them Conscious Urbanites, 25 -35, educated, actively conscious, passionate, and multi-faceted, tech-forward, proactive & connected, they have a holistic approach to well-being and are curious."

What values are you trying to transmit to your consumers?

Y.E.: "Drinkfinity's brand principles are:

  • We bring the brand to life visceral for people.
  • We strive for uniqueness and originality in everything we do.
  • We evolve with the way people behave and connect.
  • We engage in an ongoing dialogue with our community and the world.
  • We bring down the barriers between the physical and digital worlds.
  • We focus on a few greatly executed actions."
This is a completely new way of doing business and allows us to directly respond to consumers' needs and feedback.

Portada: What marketing channels and strategies are you betting on to reach your target, and how are you measuring engagement with the brand, for example in the case of millennials?

Y.E.: "Drinkfinity will continue to break from the traditional model, as it is available on E-commerce: Drinkfinity is one of the first PepsiCo products to be available through e-commerce primarily; this is a completely new way of doing business and allows us to directly respond to consumers’ needs and feedback. We are exploring other retail partners in the future to give our consumers added brand experiences. We know that our target audience for Drinkfinity are digital natives and expect a lifestyle like us to be found online."

Portada: What are the challenges of selling a product exclusively online, and how do you tackle them?

Y.E.: "We are focusing on telling our brand story through compelling social media content, video, and collaboration with influencers, innovative media buys and interactive web experiences as we know that’s where our target groups spend most of their time. We had a waitlist in the U.S. and a referral program in E.U. with influencers and targeted digital ads to tell people about Drinkfinity ahead of the launch. This generated a wait list of more than 120,000 fans who couldn’t wait to be the first to purchase Drinkfinity. And we also wanted them to experience our product first hand."

Drinkfinity vessels and pods ar only available for purchase at the Drinkfinity website, which also includes a space dedicated to articles on sustainability, wellbeing and healthy practices. Titled Infinite Stories, this section provides shopping options at the end of each article, apart from a complete shopping section where consumers can acquire vessels and pods in 4 different moods: charge, chill, flow, and renew. Drinkfinity is only available in the U.S., Brazil (where it was first launched in 2015), and Europe. Users can communicate with the brand through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.


Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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