How a 119-year-old brand is bringing sparkle to the streaming generation

Fresh from launching its new brand campaign, former CMO and now CEO of SodaStream in Australia talks through how the business is keeping up with consumers

Laura Wilson
Laura Wilson

When a brand is close to 120 years old, it can carry a lot of baggage. But there are times when decisions made more than a century ago can leave a brand perfectly positioned for today's requirements.

Such has been the case with SodaStream, the iconic maker of do-it-yourself home beverage carbonisation machine. Throughout its history, the business has found itself in the right place at the right time, from riding the home consumer gadget obsession of the 1950s through to the various budget-conscious and health-conscious trends of the decades that followed.

Now in today's more environmentally conscious society, SodaStream's core proposition of reducing plastic bottle usage is front and centre in a new campaign based on the slogan 'Push For Better'.

Laura Wilson joined SodaStream Australia as marketing director 10 years ago, and immediately set about rebuilding its local brand presence and household penetration. In 2021, she was promoted into the role of managing director.

Credit: SodaStream

"Over the last 10 years, I've had the privilege of working with the ever-evolving SodaStream brand, connecting the brand from what it was remembered in the past to more modern consumer trends - everything from health and wellness to sustainability and personalisation," Wilson tells CMO.

Each change to SodaStream's brand positioning has been the result of customer insight studies, with the current evolution based off findings relating to demands for greater social responsibility.

"In the past, it was a more transactional need. Now, they are looking for what a brand stands for and its social responsibility," Wilson says. "That led us to really look at the innovation within our product."

Sustainability push

This has included changes such as ensuring carbonating bottles are dishwasher safe, to meet demands relating to both the reusability and hygiene of the system. At a corporate level, the company is transitioning to renewable energy across its operations, while also reducing the use of plastic in its packaging.

Wilson says the company has ambitions to enhance its sustainability credentials further, with its flavour bottles eventually transitioning away from plastic altogether in favour of metal. This environmental message is at the heart of SodaStream's 'Push For Better' slogan, which Wilson says originates from the push-button nature of its system, but also applies to the company's overall philosophy.

"It is really inspired by how that one push, or one act, can have a ripple effect of positivity, both for yourself and for the earth," she says. "We want to convey that every time you make your own bottle of sparkling water or drink, you are saving bottles ending up in landfill. One push – one small act – can make big changes."

The company also repairs and resells old devices, and Wilson says any machine that can't be repaired is recycled.

"Sustainability is very much embedded in our culture, and it ripples out everywhere in our mindset and also the actions we take," she says. "We want to give consumers an alternative to single use plastic through our system, but through pioneering and leading the way, we are hoping to change the beverage industry itself."

In addition, the company has redesigned its machines in line with the high-end look favoured by today's consumers. Its Art Series devices for instance, features a slim retro design with stainless-steel trim.

"It has been an upmarket proposition, and now what we are doing is telling our story a lot better," Wilson says. "That is what this whole brand repositioning is also about. We want to be premium, but we want to be mass premium, so the most people can be part of our system.

"We want our consumers to be proud of their SodaStream. We want them to show it off, and they do."

Local flavour

Another trend aligning well with SodaStream has been the ability for users to customise the product to suit their tastes. This has been helpful for enabling the brand to meet regional preferences, such as in Japan where consumers use sparkling water to cook rice. In other markets, SodaStream is more often used for making flavoured drinks or mixers.

"People like the ability to make the drinks that are bespoke to them – everything from making water extremely frizzy to lightly sparkled – which you can do with our system," Wilson says. "It starts with the consumer, and it ends with the consumer. Our biggest goal is to connect more deeply and more emotionally with our consumers, resonate with them today and in the future, give them the products and the user experience that they want, and help them make the right choices for themselves and for the planet.

"We are a system that really taps into a lot of past and current consumer trends. It is not by design – It is just inherent in the system."

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