For the second time in four years, PepsiCo and key bottling system executives met online instead of in person for an annual meeting to review the next year’s marketing and distribution plan. In 2017, the gathering was moved to the web as Hurricane Irma headed for Florida, where the meeting had been planned. Last month, PepsiCo streamed presentations over Zoom to help keep participants safe from COVID-19. The theme for this year’s gathering was, “It’s Our Time.” Kirk Tanner, CEO of PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA), told bottlers that investments in Pepsi, Mtn Dew and Gatorade were paying off, and that the operating unit’s goal for every brand is to “grow faster than the category.” Tanner re-iterated a mantra since 2017 to be “nationally great, locally even better.” The following details of the meeting are based on information provided by multiple sources.
PANDEMIC SHIFT. PBNA CMO Greg Lyons told bottlers that the company continues to invest in advertising and marketing for beverages, and has attracted new consumers to PBNA. Looking ahead, Lyons said the pandemic has “grounded” consumers. They are focused on staying healthy, while still looking for moments of indulgence and comfort. They have also shifted their focus to value amid a weakened economy. Still, 60% of consumers claim they are drinking more beverages than before the COVID-19 crisis, he said. Next year, PepsiCo intends to make fewer, bigger bets while maintaining full A&M support for its brands and innovation.
BRAND PEPSI. Flavors will be important to Pepsi next year, and the brand will lean heavily into a flavor trend that has become hot in both beverages and food. Summer will include the limited-time revival of a Pepsi cult classic (PepsiCo declined to confirm whether a June 25 trademark filing for Pepsi Blue is related). Pepsi Zero Sugar will get increased attention and support.
MTN DEW. Mountain Dew will refocus on competing as a carbonated soft drink. Support will last year-round. Emphasis will be placed on 20-ounce offerings, Zero Sugar opportunities, and flavor introductions. Dew will capitalize on tie-ins with basketball, video gaming and a major movie release. The brand also will make greater use of a key local-market advertising channel. A gingerbread flavored Mtn Dew Snap’d will debut, along with a melon flavored variant. Kickstart, meanwhile, will be refreshed, while Game Fuel ramps up its e-commerce reach.
ENERGY. Following the acquisition of Rockstar Energy earlier this year, PepsiCo will relaunch the brand next year with the goal of reaching $1 billion in retail sales. The Rockstar relaunch will include new brand positioning, retail campaigns featuring the new product offering and a greater presence within the foodservice channel. As PepsiCo leaders stated when the acquisition of Rockstar was announced, Mtn Dew will compete more directly in the energy category with a new offering. Following this year’s distribution deal with Bang Energy, PepsiCo intends to treat the brand as if it owns Bang outright.
ALLIED BRANDS. Dr Pepper will launch an important diet extension. Crush will lead a flavors push, and Schweppes will unveil refreshed packaging.
GATORADE/PROPEL. Gatorade will continue to lean into big ritualistic moments on the sports calendar, including during the college basketball and NFL seasons. Gatorade Zero will get new flavors on its way to reaching $1 billion in retail sales. To fend off challengers in the sports drink category, Gatorade will optimize Bolt 24’s formula and launch a new hydration product aimed at Hispanic consumers. The brand also will innovate around protein, including within its shake line. Propel will be refreshed with new graphics and increased A&M investment as the brand challenges others in the enhanced water category. The brand also is advancing its agenda in data and tech.
WATER. Bubly will innovate around ingredients and flavors as PepsiCo looks to lead in sparkling water category share growth. The brand will increase focus on single-serve as well. Lifewtr will look to translate its brand equity into higher sales, helped by packaging innovation to boost shelf presence and the introduction of wellness ingredients. Shelf space will be an emphasis.
VALUE-ADDED PROTEIN. Muscle Milk will roll out a new package design and media campaign, with low- and no-sugar attributes getting a greater focus. Evolve will get a renewed focus and active lifestyle positioning within the plant-based protein shake (and bar) segment. PepsiCo also will pursue protein beverage white space.
COFFEE/TEA. PepsiCo’s Starbucks ready-to-drink partnership will look to innovate around cold coffee rituals. Ideas will be lifted from Starbucks cafes for PepsiCo’s Frappuccino and Cold Brew bottled coffee lines. Triple Shot will innovate around sugar content. Green Tea will be a point of emphasis for Lipton and Pure Leaf. Lipton will innovate in herbal teas and add more profitable and functional packaging. Brisk innovation will focus on sugar content. Yachak Organic, a yerba mate tea brand purchased with Rockstar, will be relaunched and benefit from new investment.
JUICE. Dole will be used to compete more effectively in the convenience and gas channel. For Tropicana, the brand will address the new normal around immunity amid the global pandemic. Naked Juice will go after market share abandoned by Coca-Cola’s closing of its Odwalla business and will address the protein trend. PepsiCo will launch a fruit and veggie juice blend.
FOODSERVICE. Given the pandemic, PepsiCo’s foodservice unit will use bottled and canned drinks to address the need for more portable beverages with take-out food amid the increase in online ordering and delivery.
OTHER INITIATIVES. Executives discussed initiatives related to packaging, single-serve carbonated soft drinks, holiday competition, and multicultural marketing. In addition, the company will introduce innovation around a key emerging category.
© 2022 Beverage Digest.
Design, CMS, Hosting & Web Development :: ePublishing