AriZona took the internet by storm. Pictures featuring the 23 oz can held in a manicured left hand were a common sight on Tumblr and Flickr circa 2011-2012.
It was part of the effortless fashionista aesthetic (a craft that I am still trying to master). Along with the meticulously chosen slouchy sweaters, the 99 cent accessory was an important element of the outfit. It said “I was born this cool.”
The brand also has a strong presence on Pinterest; it has inspired nail art, interior design, clothing, shoes, and jewelry. My theory is that the cute can designs sparked its initial popularity, and then its status as a widely-accepted, trendy, and affordable accessory carried it into the hearts of teenage girls everywhere.
Why it’s valuable: In spite of its huge competitors with their giant marketing budgets, AriZona had garnered 39% of the market share for RTD tea in 2011 compared to Lipton’s 34.8% according to Beverage Digest. In the first 9 months of 2011, AriZona’s sales were at $595 million. http://adage.com/article/news/tea-titans-arizona-lipton-tangle-place/230034/
The consumers fully embraced the brand and made it viral on their own. This gave AriZona a huge unpaid media presence, established brand loyalty, and influenced people through their friends and online role models. One downside of this phenomenon was that because the messages were user generated, the brand did not have a lot of control over them. For example, Miley Cyrus posed very provocatively with a can of AriZona iced tea (something their less-cool competitors would never have to worry about). Still, an unpaid endorsement from Miley Cyrus is nothing to cry about.