Reducing Beverage Industry Waste with SodaStream’s Nirit Hurwitz

July 9, 2014

sodastream.jpg JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good. We’re so excited to have with us today Nirit Hurwitz. She’s the Global Brand Building Communications Manager for SodaStream International. Welcome to Green is Good, Nirit. NIRIT HURWITZ: Thank you for having me. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know, Nirit, before we get into talking about SodaStream USA and all the great stuff you’re doing, and you are the rage in the United States, can you give us a little bit of background about yourself before joining SodaStream and how’d you end up here? NIRIT HURWITZ: Sure, absolutely. So, I started out actually at Procter & Gamble and I was there for many years working on a lot of kind of very big and very established brands and after being there for a while, I actually had the opportunity to join SodaStream and it seemed like such an incredible place to work where you have a wonderful purpose when you come into work and you know that you’re working on a brand and that it creates better for you drinks and it’s better for the environment and it was just a wonderful fit and that’s kind of how I made my way through to SodaStream. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s wonderful, and I just have to give a shout-out to our listeners. This is a first today. You’re coming on the show from Israel. This is the first time we’ve had a great guest on from Israel, and I thank you for that. I thank you for the journey across today and being on the show from Israel and we have listeners around the world so this is great. Talk a little bit about SodaStream so people can connect your great brand so for our listeners out there who want to follow along online like I’m online, it’s SodaStreamUSA.com. How is SodaStream decreasing our carbon footprint? Explain that interrelationship. NIRIT HURWITZ: Well you know, the way that SodaStream works is actually very simple. It’s that you have one machine at home with a bottle that enables you to make any sparkling drink you want so you can make sparkling water, you can have flavored sparkling water, you can have sodas, you can have natural drinks, and it can all be made with the one bottle that you receive with the machine so instead of people going out and buying bottles and cans and throwing them out or recycling, which I’ll talk about in a minute about what’s really happening there, instead you can use this bottle and keep on reusing it and that’s really what helps us to really give something back to the environment and what’s incredible is that when you use the SodaStream machine, the amount of bottles you can save is actually amazing. The average family can save up to 2,000 bottles and cans a year. That’s what they’re using so by simply having this machine in its place, you get to go through and make sure that you don’t use any of those bottles and cans instead. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, is this unique to you? Is this something that really you own this space compared to other brands? There’s no other brands that have that kind of value proposition in terms of saving that many cans and that many packages? NIRIT HURWITZ: Absolutely. When you look at SodaStream or the soda-making category where really, that’s synonymous with SodaStream, that is very much unique versus if you’re looking at kind of those other big companies, versus Coca-Cola or Pepsi. This is something very unique that we get to offer to our consumers is this ability to make the sodas at home and to not have to use bottles and cans so yeah, once you’re into the home soda making world, that’s it. You don’t have to take bottles and carry them home from the supermarket and then think about if you’re going to throw them out or recycle them and all of the carbon footprint that goes into that process. Instead, you just get to use the SodaStream. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Nirit, I gotta tell you something. When I go into different stores here in the United States and I see you guys have such great packaging and you have great visibility in the stores, I have never associated it with green, so I’m so glad you came on and you’re sharing with our listeners how green it is to use SodaStream. Can you share a little bit about the visibility on the future of the green revolution and SodaStream’s place in this space in the years to come? NIRIT HURWITZ: Absolutely. I think that part of it is also understanding kind of where we’ve been in the last few years, which is starting back a couple years ago, about five, six years ago, really the company started to better understand what kind of green composition we have and to try and help consumers to understand that as well because, like you said, not everybody knows that SodaStream is such an environmental product and it can save so many bottles and cans and not only that but we saw the consumers really when you go into the world, especially of beverages, people have forgotten the concept of reducing. They understand that they should maybe recycle but the entire idea, remember when we were little, we learned reduce, reuse, recycle but reduce and reuse have just been thrown out the window and it’s somehow turned into the world of recycling and recycling actually takes a lot of energy as well, whereas if you reduce and reuse, that’s really the best thing you can do so we understood that several years back and since then, have really been putting that in many aspects of the plan and it’s in our core and will continue to be in our core and as we move forward, you asked before is this something unique, and yeah, it’s something unique to the home soda making category so we will always have this green cause kind of in our core and in everything that we do. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love on your website and again, for our listeners out there, it’s www.sodastreamusa.com. Right at the top of the landing page, two things that I love: saving the world from and it gives the amount of bottles you’ve saved the world, which is just so great. Having a bottle calculator right at the top of your website’s wonderful and then on the right side of your landing page, you have an earth friendly badge and that’s great to have there. I never would have gone and known that until you came on the show but this is so great. What great things you’re doing for the environment and for the world at large so give us a little visibility on the scientists at SodaStream. When you’re starting to do predictive analytics on the future, what’s your thought processes on your consumers and other consumers that you want to become SodaStream users? Are consumers becoming more friendly or is that talk right now in the media or is this really a revolution that there’s no going back and that they really do want to be more green and this is just another great way they can be more green? NIRIT HURWITZ: You know, I think that what we find is when you look at consumers, people definitely want to make decisions that are more green and that are healthier and people inherently have understood now that these are really important aspects of their lives but I think that really what we also understand is that it’s in human nature for people to want to also make sure that they’re getting good product and getting something that they’re going to enjoy so I think that that’s really the nice combination that you get with SodaStream is that you really don’t have to compromise. You get a machine that helps you to make any drink that you want. You can have the sodas that you’re used to having, go creative and make your own different cocktails, or make flavored sparkling water creations and really have fun with it and at the same time, you get to have something that is working well for the environment and that is doing better for the environment. Plus, you’re getting something, by the way, that our flavors are actually better for you. They have two thirds less sugar than regular flavors. We use no aspartames so it’s really also all those great benefits but in kind of a no compromise situation. You get to enjoy it all but also, when we think about our consumers that are coming up, we look and we say you could be using SodaStream and simply by using it, you could be reducing at least 65% of the carbon footprint every time you make a SodaStream soda instead of a regular soda so why wouldn’t you go ahead and make that small change to help the environment so as we continue to speak to consumers, that’s something that we hope will continue to happen that more and more people move into the SodaStream realm and start using SodaStream and we don’t have to create such a huge carbon footprint with every simple soda that we have to drink every day. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What I love on your website is that you give a whole analysis on why SodaStream is better than recycling. Can you just share a couple of the highlights from that analysis with our listeners? Because it’s really important that they understand the whole value chain. It’s just not the visible tangible bottles themselves but it’s also all the trucking and all the energy. Can you go into that a little bit, Nirit? NIRIT HURWITZ: Yeah, absolutely, so that’s part of what I spoke to before is the fact that we forget about reducing and reusing because we think that recycling is the solution but the problem with recycling is how much energy it actually uses so in order for a bottle to be recycled, it has to be picked up, taken by a truck, taken to a center. There’s energy that goes into creating new materials that is used with every new bottle and I’m not even going to talk about the incredible amount of money and funding that goes into governments to create the infrastructure for recycling and to build all those systems and all of that’s happening and part of it as well is that people, they recycle but unfortunately, we’re not seeing as high of recycle rates as we’d like to see around the world and unfortunately, we’re seeing much higher claimed recycling rates than actual recycling rates. In other words, people say they recycle far more than they actually do so not only is recycling not doing enough but people aren’t doing enough recycling so it really comes to a point where we say what else could we do? Because this part of recycling, it’s not the solution. We can’t keep on consuming and consuming more and then saying well, it’s okay because now I’ll have trucks pick it up and take it somewhere else and remake it with more energy into something else. We need to figure out how to actually drastically change our habits and using SodaStream is a way that changes your habits, not so drastically every day. It’s really a pleasant machine. It’s great. It’s easy to use and you don’t have to actually go and keep on recycling plastic. To be honest, having a recycling bin that gets filled every couple days is annoying. It’s nicer to not have to worry about that, not have to take it out to the trash. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Yeah, you’re right. For those of you who just joined us, we’re on the phone today with Nirit Hurwitz. She’s the Global Brand Building Communications Manager for SodaStream International. To follow along as we have this wonderful discussion, go to www.sodastreamusa.com. Just as a shameless plug, you’re really all over the place. Your products sell at Best Buy; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Costco; Walmart; Target; Macy’s; all these great, great stores; Staples; at all these great stores across the United States. It’s just the rage right now. Am I missing anybody big? NIRIT HURWITZ: I think you got most of the big ones, but yeah, we’re pretty much everywhere now, so it makes it really nice and convenient because you can go and pick up your SodaStream machine anywhere. We have over 60 flavors so you can pick up any flavor you like and then for people who aren’t aware as well, we try and reduce and reuse everything so we have even the gas in the machine, you can exchange so you don’t have to throw out the gas cylinder that it comes in. You get to go in and exchange it and we do that for a discounted rate as well and you can do that at any one of our retailers so we’re all over the place and nice and easy to reach as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Nirit, can you explain a little bit about your partnership with organizations like Five Gens and the Earth Day Network? NIRIT HURWITZ: Absolutely, so we’ve started to work with Five Gens and Earth Day Network, I believe it was about a year ago so we began a partnership with them and really, it was more with Earth Day Network where we were working on this particular project and then continuing also with Five Gen and then with some other projects but we’ve come to work with them. There’s a clear understanding of our joint work together in a joint purpose of helping the environment and that kind of leads me to one of the big campaigns that we’ve done recently, which is our Super Continent Campaign, which I’m not sure if you’ve seen or not. JOHN SHEGERIAN: No. Tell me about it. Tell us about it. NIRIT HURWITZ: If you go to SecretContinent.com, you’ll see that’s kind of our latest campaign that we’ve done because we’re always looking for new and creative ways to get our news out there and what we decided to do is with an understanding that we found a lot of people were kind of getting immune to the green messaging because they’ve just heard so much of it that stopping to pay attention so we came up with kind of a creative idea to get people involved so we created this place called The Secret Continent and it’s an imaginary location that we’ve created and we tell people to come to this incredible vacation destination and once they get there, they realize that it’s actually a place made out of trash and there are all sorts of different things that they can learn about the continent that they can see the animals that live there and the “culture” that’s there, everything that exists on this imaginary island made of trash but we’re actually here to represent The Pacific Garbage Patch, which exists near the coast of Australia and is actually twice the size of Texas and very much real and that is really what we’re doing here is trying to make a very serious point to life via kind of a little fun in a humoristic way. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Love it. I’m on it right now, TheSecretContinent.com, so tell me, when did you launch this? NIRIT HURWITZ: This was launched a couple months ago. We’ve launched it in many different countries so we had it from the U.S. to Australia to Japan. It was everywhere and the website is still there. We have it up and it’s for everybody to go and look at and enjoy and what this website does is really expose the horrific reality of The Pacific Garbage Patch because, unfortunately, besides the fact that this patch of garbage that is twice the size of Texas is floating around in the ocean, the majority of people just don’t know that it exists and what they don’t realize as well is that that’s where a lot of the trash is. Unfortunately, when the recycling rate goes down and when waste isn’t put in the right places, this is where it gets to and so this is what we’re trying to expose is to show to people the reality of certain decisions that we make as a global community and to show them what exists in The Pacific Garbage Patch and we’ve tried to do it, like I said, in a way that is a little bit funny and a little bit different than what they’ve seen normally when we talk about the environment so that we can really get people to come in, play a bit, laugh a bit, but also understand the serious nature of what they’re seeing. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You’re the Global Brand Building Communications Manager. Can you talk a little bit about SodaStream’s relationship and your first global brand ambassador, Scarlett Johansson? NIRIT HURWITZ: Absolutely. Scarlett joined us at the beginning of this year in January and it was a very natural connection that took place because Scarlett has actually been a user of the brand for years and a very passionate user, probably more passionate than any person I’ve ever met, and we actually got in contact with her because she got in contact with us. She was in Paris shooting and she needed extra gas for the machine and an assistant got in contact with us and then suddenly, we found out that it was her and we found out that she was a fan of the brand and she’d been using it and that seemed to make the most sense to us as a synergy for a brand partnership because we never wanted a brand ambassador who we paid to smile and say that they used the machine. We wanted somebody who really loves our product and who was a true user because we have so many passionate users that we want somebody who’s like that speaking for our brand and we were lucky enough that we got Scarlett to join us and she is not only passionate about our brand but really about the purpose of our product as well. She loves the fact that it’s environmentally friendly and she’s even said that she likes that when she throws a party; she doesn’t have to go and throw out tons of bottles and cans afterwards. There’s no big trash can that’s piled up and the fact that we have better for you products is also something that she connects to so it’s such a natural kind of partnership that came through and we’re very, very happy to have her as our brand ambassador. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s so interesting. In this world though, that has changed dramatically in terms of the Mad Men world that existed in the ’60s and of course, in the ’70s, Nirit, and now sort of the Modern Family world that we live in now in 2014, how do you use her? Because truly, this is part of her DNA and culture, using your great SodaStream product, how do you use her appropriately? In what platforms? In traditional advertising or is it more social media or how does that go when you make those decisions? NIRIT HURWITZ: We use her kind of appropriately as it comes around so we don’t have this specific plan that says that we’re only going to use her in one media but we did have her as the star of our super bowl ad, which is a very proud moment, but really, Scarlett is helping us to touch on many aspects of the brand so besides doing that TV ad, which we had, she’s also, whenever we come out with a product that she believes in, she’ll come and she’ll talk about it as well so that’s wonderful that we have her on our side for that so throughout the course of the next couple years of the partnership, you’ll see her in little places all throughout. Not too many details I can give away but you’ll see her. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Oh, that’s great, so we’re down to the last two minutes and I want to of course, plug your great product. Can you talk a little bit about what’s the most popular selling machine and why and again, all the different great yummy drinks that SodaStream can make, for our listeners out there around the world? NIRIT HURWITZ: Absolutely, so our flagship machine is called The Source Machine. It’s also the machine that you’ll see in the ad with Scarlett Johansson. It is a wonderful machine that is sold in the stores in the U.S. that you mentioned so you can find it pretty much everywhere and it’s a really, really easy to use machine. You just press on it. It shows you exactly how much you’re carbonating and you can pick exactly how much you want to carbonate so if you like lightly sparkling water or really, really heavily carbonated sodas, you can make that, whatever you want, whatever level, and with the machine, as I mentioned, you just need one bottle and you can create any drink you can imagine and, like I said, we have about 60 different flavors so you can make sparkling water. We have flavored sparkling water. We have fruit flavors. We have your kind of traditional sodas and then we even have cocktail ranges and you can mix and match and play as well and have fun and we encourage people to be creative at home as well and make their own drinks because you don’t have to have it the way that Coke or Pepsi said that this is what a drink tastes like. No, make it the way you like it. Have fun with it. Create your own drinks and it really is a fun machine to have at home. It’s good for the environment. As I mentioned, a lot of our flavors, they’re better for you. They have two-thirds less sugar than the regular flavors. Our diets have no aspartame and we have all natural drinks so go through. Go to our shelf. Play and have fun. That’s really part of it is to have fun with the SodaStream. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners out there, go to www.sodastreamusa.com and click on the where to buy button. All the stores are there. Buy SodaStream and save the planet. Thank you, Nirit, for being an inspiring green ambassador and evangelist. You are truly living proof that green is good.