PepsiCo to Enter Cocktail Mixer Category With New Brand Neon Zebra.
Dr Pepper Zero Sugar, Bai Boost Launch Nationally in March.
Coca-Cola Adds Herbal Twist to Smartwater Lineup.
With prospects for a COVID-19 recovery improving, beverage makers are working their way back to a more normal innovation pattern in the US as retailers prepare to reset store shelves. This time last year, product launch plans were headed for chaos as the pandemic made its way to the US. Within weeks, retailers and manufactures would be throwing out store plans to focus on core products as consumers raced to fill their pantries ahead of the viral spread. This month, as a third vaccine becomes available in the US and the rate of infections has decelerated this year, PepsiCo, Keurig Dr Pepper, and Coca-Cola are among companies rolling out a range of products to satisfy consumers who may soon be ready to explore again.
‘NO FUSS’ NEON ZEBRA. PepsiCo is entering the cocktail mixer category with a new brand called Neon Zebra. The canned product launches nationally in March to capitalize on demand by “21- to 30-year-old Gen Zs who are looking for a no-fuss way to make their favorite cocktails,” Emily Silver, VP of Innovation & Capabilities for PepsiCo Beverages North America, told BD. Consumers add liquor to the non-alcoholic mixers, and no additional preparation is necessary. Neon Zebra will be sold at retail and online in paperboard 6-packs of 7.5-oz cans. Pricing will be between $6.99 and $7.99 per multipack. Flavors are Margarita, Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito, and Whiskey Sour. The mixers are made with real juice and contain no artificial sweeteners. One can contains 36g of sugar, and 140 to 150 calories. The mixer category -- including ginger beer, club soda, and tonics – generated about $860 million at retail last year after growing +28%, Silver said. Neon Zebra will go head-to-head with Zing Zang, a non-alcoholic cocktail mixer sold in 8-oz cans. The brand will be distributed by PepsiCo’s corporate-owned bottling system and independent bottlers. Channels will include traditional retail, convenience, and liquor stores. PepsiCo may also partner with alcohol home delivery companies, such as Drizly. PBNA began work on the product in January 2019 using a proprietary internal “innovation framework” that uses social listening and other techniques to identify whitespace opportunities, Silver said. Despite the pandemic, the project will hit its intended launch window, she said. “COVID has accelerated the trends of consumers drinking and mixing cocktails at home, versus out of home,” she said.
DR PEPPER JOINS ZERO SUGAR UNIVERSE. Dr Pepper Zero Sugar will rollout nationally in March as the brand moves into a space that has proved successful for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Last year, a 13-year legal battle between Dr Pepper and Coca- Cola ended after clearing the way for Dr Pepper to use the word “zero” without risk of violating any of Coke’s “Zero” trademarks. (Just this week, the iconic southern cherry soda Cheerwine announced a Zero Sugar version that will replace Diet Cheerwine.) With the launch of Dr Pepper Zero Sugar, Diet Dr Pepper will remain in the portfolio, a spokeswoman told BD. Dr Pepper Zero Sugar will be sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium (ace-K), which is the same combination used for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Pepsi Zero Sugar. Dr Pepper Cherry, and Dr Pepper & Cream Soda will get Zero Sugar versions as well. In 2020, Dr Pepper volume increased +12% while dollars grew +14% at retail. Diet Dr Pepper grew volume and dollars by about +17%. The bottling systems of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo distribute the majority of Dr Pepper’s volume in the US.
BAI DOUBLES DOWN ON ENERGY TREND. Also in March, Keurig Dr Pepper will launch nationally an extension called Bai Boost with double the caffeine of core Bai. An 18-oz bottle will contain 110mg of caffeine, which is about the amount found in a cup of coffee. The caffeine is from white tea extract. Flavors will be Buka Black Raspberry, Togo Tangerine Citrus, and Watamu Strawberry Watermelon. Like core Bai, the product is a flavored and enhanced still water with 10 calories per bottle. The drink will be line priced with core Bai. The company is looking to meet consumer desire for an energy boost from still water, the spokeswoman said. Last year, the Bai brand grew +0.1% as dollars declined -2.7%.
SMARTWATER PLUS HERBS. Coca-Cola has added a Smartwater+ line that includes herbs blended with fruit or tea extracts. The three variants of the still water line are Tranquility, with ashwagandha and tangerine extract; Clarity, with ginseng and green tea extract; and Renew, with dandelion and lemon extract. The drink, in 23.7- oz PET bottles, will be priced at $2.19 at select grocers and other retailers nationally.
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