Can millennials be taught to love OJ?
Chalk up orange juice as another casualty of the war on sugary beverages.
Sales of orange juice, a onetime breakfast staple, have declined precipitously as lesssugary green drinks have taken a big chunk of its shelf space. “Americans drank less orange juice in 2015 than in any year since Nielsen began collecting data in 2002,” the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.
The decline is due mostly to the fact that it’s packed with sugar, albeit natural sugar.
PepsiCo, owner of Tropicana, has lined up a marketing campaign to boost the 70year-old brand with millennials. The beverage giant this month began buying native advertising space with Ashton Kutcher’s “A Plus” digital news site — which espouses positive news — in hopes of making millennials learn to love its OJ. The site has 11.5 million unique monthly visitors, according to a September news release.
The native content series, called “Morning Spark,” includes videos promoting OJ as a feel-good morning beverage and positive way to start the day. Kutcher’s pull is helping with his network of celebrities. The video has been shared on Facebook by Adam Levine, Robin Thicke and Lil Wayne.
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, has no problem with Pepsi trying to make an 8-ounce glass part of millennials’ daily constitutional. “They are trying to sell orange juice, ” said Nestle. “That’s their job.”
Nestle, who is not known for her soft spot when it comes to Big Beverage, gave the Purchase, N.Y.-based food, snack and beverage company a nod. “Pepsi has pledged to put real money into advertising its healthier products. Let’s give them credit for doing that in this case.”
Pepsi said OJ is a nutritious eye opener, with vitamin C, essential potassium and folic acid, crucial to women of childbearing age. But David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, cautioned consumers before they jump on the orange juice express.
“Fruit juice and whole fruit are not the same,” Ludwig said. “We need to be encouraging whole fruits while limiting consumption of concentrated or processed sugars. And most commercial fruit juices are in that (processed sugars) category.”
“This campaign flies in the face of national recommendations to increase consumption of whole foods and limit highly processed carbohydrates. Commercial fruit juices clearly fall into that second category.” It’s not going to be easy. “Millennials are obsessed with health,” said Gabrielle Bosche, a strategist who consults with companies on how to reach younger consumers. “Unless it’s cold pressed and organic, this generation isn’t interested in juice.