Spreading cola brands too thin
Over the past 20 years, the battle for supremacy between Coca-Cola and Pepsi has resulted in the launches of numerous brand extensions. In combating decline in the fizzy drinks market, are the cola giants wise to rely on new variants to protect market share? By Mark Choueke variants. Coca-Cola added Diet Coke with Lemon to its permanent range this year, only for PepsiCo to follow with lemon and lime-flavoured Pepsi Max Twist. Not to be outdone, Coke launched Diet Coke with Lime, and, as a limited-edition flavour for summer. Coke with Lemon. A Coca-Cola spokeswoman says: "Everything we do is consumer-led and research told us Coke with Lemon is the taste of summer. Consumers reminisce about childhood summers and heing treated to a bottle of Coke with a slice of lemon, so we made it available." Coca Cola is determined to forge ahead with CSD product innovation in 2006. "Consumers will determine all future launches. If a product fits our positioning and is demanded by consumers, then anything goes," the spokeswoman says. Britvic, which is licensed to distribute PepsiCo products in the UK, adopts a more guarded approach to brand extensions and limited editions. Britvic category director Andrew Marsden says: "'Limited editions add novelty and surprise to everyday categories and generate additional interest and revenue. But you have to be careful with the flavour of limited editions and how many you release. It is a risk and you need confidence in the product." ONLY FOOLS RUSH IN
rink Coca-Cola. Coke Is It. The Real Thing. Three unmistakably clear and powerful advertising campaigns once used by the soft drinks giant to stress the inimitable essence of the world's most powerful brand. But the sheer number of Coca-Coia and Diet Coke variants now on the market set to increase when Diet Cherry Coke launches next February - are making the straplines obsolete. Diet Coke was launched in the UK 21 years ago as Coca Coia's first brand extension. Today it is the second best-selling soft drink, after Coke. But
the personality of the brand may be compromised by its bastardised cousins - UK consumers can already buy five varieties of Diet Coke, depending on whether they fancy it caffeine-free, or with a dash of lemon, lime or vanilla. Carbonated soft drink (CSD) sales are in a longterm globai decline as consumers fret about obesity. With that in mind, embattled laboratory teams responsible for creating new products at Coca Cola and PepsiCo are desperately trying to Britvic launched the limited edition cinnaraise flagging consumer interest in the category mon and ginger flavoured Pepsi Max Punch in with new permanent and limited-edition September, made available until the end of the
Marsden counsels against falling into a "race mentality" with rivals to get the next fruitflavoured cola onto the shelves. "Success requires a long-term strategy sensible mai'keting and good category knowledge. We don't throw things at the market on a whim. Limited editions must have business sense, category context and consumer rationale, and are relatively expensive things to do well. You need to know it will add brand equity. An ill conceived product damages relationships with both trade and consumers I've seen products left in retailers' bins."
24 : Marketing Week 03.11.05
Christmas period. In January, it will roll out coffee-flavoured Pepsi Max Cino as a permanent addition to its range (MW October 20), One retailer says meaningless variants can undermine the strength of a brand, being withdrawn or left on shelves by consumers, A recent Mintel report found that although more than 80 per cent of 15- to 24-year-old Britons drink cola and other carbonates, they are relatively unadventurous. Only seven per cent try new products and just 11 per cent said they would buy varieties such as lemon or vanilla cola. THE HARSH TASTE OF REALITY
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