Liquid Death clones – will they work as well?

Liquid death is one of the marketeers and brand consultants most beloved brands at the moment and there a dozens of analysis out there, why the brand has become that successful. I will not go into much detail but the concepts behind are its radical differentiation (bottle canned in beer cans with a big skull on it), it’s anti-advertising advertising and the content ecosystem is utilizes to create powerful stories. The applied concepts used are not completely new but the combination and the category disturbance it caused in the US is very impressive. What I favor the most is that some of the top executives responsible for the concept are ex-advertisers who got sick of their job and applied their knowledge to their own brand. This is so inspiring and I am wondering why it is not happening more often (I did is myself but currently stuck in major production issues with burntz). Anyhow, I regularly monitor the category of drink and recently I stumbled upon a press release of a very clear copy cat of Liquid death in Austria: evil juice.

With success comes imitation – it will always be the case but this one got my attention. Not only it comes out of my home country Austria (fun fact: also the water in Liquid death is originated in Austria), but also how clear the visible concept was copied by the imitator. The company behind the evil juice brand is no unknown one: Rauch is a big player in the category and also fills major stakes for Red Bull. Besides the phonetic not clever chosen name, as it calls out as well evil jews (!!!), the packaging design is a “re-interpretation” of the Liquid death can. Elements as the font style, the skull, the melting drops element is taken out of the original art work. I am no graphic artist myself, but I have to say from a brand perspective, that the creator did not invest a lot of time to think about to adapt the original concept, but just blind-copied it – not very award worthy. Below the original cans to demonstrate the similarity:

Putting the package design copy aside, lets move on to the positioning. In a press release the company Rauch stated that they want to target especially the Gen-Z with the product. The wording that is used in the communication so far, is trying to be hip, differentiated and here not in the fashion of the original brand. It applies in fact typical mechanisms of target group based marketing that is used by every FMCG brand out there: showing the target group, use language of it and persuade for the sale (prize point is at 1.69€, comparing a 1l of also fruit flavored mineral water you can get for below 1€) with a fancy CTA. Very straight forward out of the textbook marketing – nothing fancy or sophisticated. Here is one example the I stumbled upon on instagram (not by the brand itself, but a retailer):

So here the copy cat brand is not copying the more extravagant and creative marketing of the original. I personally think that Rauch is more utilizing its existing distribution power (the company is listed in supermarkets all over Europe) to get the new product to the customers. Will they buy in?

I honestly don’t think so. There are in latest history a couple of drink sensations that hyped for once in the younger target group (Prime energy drink form Logan Paul) but on the long run didn’t succeed. In my region there are dozens of influencer branded energy drink and soft drinks competing for the same younger audience (at a stupid ridiculous prize point). Besides that I am also fascinated that air up (not a drink by itself) is a huge hit among teens and make them drink pure tap water. Also the market in which Liquid death is successful, differs very much from that in Europe. Soft drinks aren’t that popular here and flavored water is since year a well established product category. So the startpoint is a competitive category, in which the product will stand out for sure, but I don’t think it will be enough to capture significant market share. By the way: the brand is not the first one in Austria that offers fruit flavored water in a beer can: Small water company Waldquelle launched it before but decided for a traditional category branding.

To sum up and answer the question from the headline: will evil juice be a successful product? No, the product tries to copy the disruptive concept from the super successful Liquid death, but only a fraction from it and in a poorly done way. The almost 1:1 copied package design, but with the not well thought through name (phonetics !!!) is not enough to stand out on the long term. Even if the company is able to utilize some viral marketing hits in the future the narrow targeting is hindering itself from growth.


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