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Sales of Golden Circle’s range of carbonated juice products were in major decline and if this were not addressed they would soon no longer participate in this profitable segment of the market

R&D Challenge

In 2009, GC was close to being in default on its banking covenants and radical steps needed to be taken if the company was to survive

Extensive market research had shown that the GC brand lacked a suitable product portfolio that appealed to existing and emerging consumer groups. Current range of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) carried the Golden Circle brand and communicated an “out of touch” and “non-differentiated positioning”, and were sold in 250mL cans or plastic PET bottles. With approximately 1% of the market, it needed more than a “face-lift”!

At this time there were also major market initiatives to reduce obesity amongst children which resulted in traditional soft drinks being deleted from schools via the new “School Traffic Light System” (categorising foods and drinks as to their level of ‘healthiness’). GC needed to grab this opportunity

R&D Solution

Created a “healthy alternative to soft drinks” – making Juice Fun, Cool and Relevant to “tweens through to young females” LOL “text talk for laugh out loud” was created and launched offering kids a “fun, cool juice” experience – at a time when a lot of “fun” products were being banned from schools – including traditional soft drinks

A new kids’ carbonated 99% Fruit Juice in a slim-line can – single packs in the Impulse Channel and a multipack in Grocery outlets. Grocery packs were more heavily endorsed by Golden Circle as it retained strong perception of quality and trust amongst Household shoppers – mums!

R&D Team were challenged to develop a ‘new generation CSD’, one that met the new ‘health monitor criteria’ whilst delivering an excellent taste experience for the target market

The marketing brief required: a juice based CSD & trendy slim line can. A slimline can format required a complete retooling of the current line and once modified it could no longer be used to make the existing range of products – thus a co-packer had to be found fast – one who met the required ‘efficiency, food safety and production rates criteria’

The timeline for the project was extremely short – 5 months – the product had to be developed, tested in sensory research, approved, and a 3rd party manufacturer confirmed to allow for a summer launch (given the seasonality of product), to allow schools to be targeted prior to class commencement, plus to pre-empt competitors

A small expert project team was formed that required tight co-operation between Marketing and R&D. Prototype development cycle required almost daily evolution of product samples – maintaining speed and focus of delivery


Took market leadership of this new market segment, with the biggest most successful new product in more than 10 years adding a new range worth approximately $20m in its first year. It was ranged in School Canteens, Traditional Route and Grocery channels. This importantly also helped commence the job of evolving the Golden Circle umbrella brand

R&D Disciplines

  • Nutritional – understanding the evolving regulations and requirements; the Traffic Light System was implemented differently in each state
  • Engineering Design and Capital Assessment– Design for modification to accommodate the slim line CSD
  • Strategic sourcing – working through a list of potential co-packers without revealing the actual product or its target market to any of them
  • Flavour sourcing and blending to achieve the required ‘health benefits’ plus response from the targeted market