Emily Frank – One Water

Emily Frank – One Water

Emily Frank is Marketing Director for One Water (www.onewater.org.uk). One Water is one of the leading ethical water brands in the UK, which has been in market since 2005. Because One Water is a small company, Emily’s responsibilities are broad. As well as pure classical marketing, Emily is also responsible for CSR, Customer Marketing, Trade Marketing, Packaging and NPD. Emily: “Our purpose is to sell ethical bottled water in the UK. The sale of every pack goes to fund clean water projects in some of the world’s poorest communities. This year, The One Foundation reached £20 million in donations, which has allowed us to change over 3.6 million lives, which is a huge milestone.”

Main ingredients for growth

Emily: “The main KPI for growth up until this point is really our sales performance. We look at topline sales growth from both existing customer and new business wins. However, we’re about to go through a big brand re-launch, so something that I’m looking to introduce this year is brand tracking. Being able to have a consistent, actual read on measures like brand awareness, to really get that consumer view. Our brand awareness at the moment is quite low, so there isn’t a lot of point to looking at other measures currently. However, in the future, I’d be interested in looking at our brand advantage vs the two other charity waters on the market.”

Using the (one) brand to drive growth

Emily explains that One Water believes in the opportunity to use the brand to drive growth. “Our benefit is emotional rather than functional, and you can only deliver that through the power of the brand. We don’t see ourselves as bottled water sellers, we’re really about selling the dream of helping to end water poverty. We’ve been doing a lot of work on brand positioning, and the main reason to do that wasn’t just about comms or our label design. It was everything; how we show up to events, which consumers we should be going after, how we should be talking about ourselves, what innovations to focus on. To me, it all has to do with brand positioning. Whatever consumers see, whether that’s pack design or your Instagram posts, they should all be saying the same thing about you.”

Differentiating through innovation

Emily: “We’ve been trying to outline to buyers and to stockists why there’s a consumer opportunity for an ethical water. With what’s going on at the moment with the plastic debate and people being less positive towards buying bottled water, now is the perfect time to buy an ethical option. People still want bottled water because of the convenience, so why not make them feel better about buying one. Therefore, our communication is promoting the need for an ethical sub-category within water. Versus the other charity waters on the market, we believe we have the strongest positioning thanks to our foundation and our range of pack options. The benefit of having our own foundation vs supporting a larger charity is that it keeps the overheads to a minimum (more pence in every pound is going to the projects vs overheads, marketing etc) and it allows us to ‘cherry-pick’ new and innovative projects to fund. The other key way we try to differentiate is by launching new pack formats. So, for example, last year we introduced our ‘One Less Bottle’ water cartons, so we’re the only ethical water that’s available in a carton. This has helped us gain traction in new channels that perhaps our competitors haven’t taken advantage of yet. Instead of focussing on other ethical waters, we see our main competition being other premium water brands. This allows us to target more mainstream water shoppers and communicate the benefit of buying ethical.“

Main source for innovation

Emily: “We don’t have big budgets to spend on research, so we must use mixture of sources for inspiration. For instance, we don’t have our own bottling facilities – we work with co-packers – so it’s working with them and understanding what their capabilities are and partnering with them to create new ranges. We also attend conferences and exhibitions to understand what’s going on. Not just in water, but in other closely related categories too. We see what’s going on in soft drinks, desserts, or cocktails, and that’ll influence our flavoured water range. We also look at trade press to understand not just what’s going on in the UK, but also what’s happening internationally. I think it’s about trying to have as broad of a network as possible, and to avoid having a narrow focus. It’s important to have different sources for inspiration, and then look for viable supply options. But everything we create has to have a consumer lens to it, it has to be what consumers are after. We use this as a starting point, and create work streams to tackle different issues, whether that be alternatives to plastic or removing artificial sweeteners. We use the stimulus to look at which concepts could fulfil those needs. Once we’ve identified the need-states, we can work with our suppliers to see what they can do to meet those needs.”

According to Emily, measuring the success of their innovations is down to the number of listings of that specific product. Emily: “How many new and existing stockists have got excited by it, and is it sustainable from a business point of view? So, for example, the carton packaging opened up some new channels for us in areas like events, which we wouldn’t have got before if we’d just had the bottles.”

Why innovations fail

Emily: “This happens to a lot of companies. You’re halfway through the development process, and you’re so committed to the launch that it doesn’t matter what gets thrown at you, you carry on thinking it’ll be fine. Instead of taking a step back and remembering what it was you were meant to be doing and what principles you were meant to be sticking too. When you go through the development process you have to make some compromises, but its important to re-visit what was important to begin with. So, often you’ll end up with a product that doesn’t match the initial research or brief, but you’ll still be quoting the initial research to substantiate this new product.”

Taking risks

Emily: “I would love to do a bit more testing, but we have to look after every penny we spend that isn’t going to the foundation. At the moment, we’re relying more on gut-feeling. It’s tricky because with big companies your product will get stocked regardless, whilst we don’t have that luxury. However, by being small we’re also agile and can take risks. When Blue Planet 2 – the nature documentary series – first came out, we knew bigger companies would take a year or so to come up with their answer, whilst we were able to get carton packaging out there straight away. We can act on our gut a lot more, but it does come with risks. Without data and testing, it’s a lot more of a risk you’re taking.”