The drink, which has 60 calories per serving, what is half less that of well-known Pepsi, was presented in Iowa and Wisconsin in July. Pepsi spokespeople said they had received plenty of positive anecdotal reports from test markets as early as October, and fuller data must have borne out those anecdotes.
Massimo d’Amore, CEO, PepsiCo Beverages America, had officially confirmed the launch at presentation at the Beverage Digest Wall Street Smarts conference in New York in June.
“As part of our continued commitment to innovate our carbonated soft drinks portfolio, we developed Pepsi Next, a great-tasting, full-flavor cola with 60% less sugar,” Massimo d’Amore. “In thorough consumer research, Pepsi Next resonated very well with consumers who are seeking a new, reduced-sugar alternative to their loved cola.”
New Pepsi contains a combination of caloric sweeteners, kind of high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. It is Pepsi’s third attempt to create a drink with fewer calories than Pepsi and more calories than Diet Pepsi; the first two, especially Pepsi XL, haven’t succeeded.
Pepsi Max (“Zero Calories, Maximum Taste”) and Coke Zero (“Real Coca-Cola Taste and Zero Calories”) caused the idea of a mid-calorie cola. Mid-calorie products have a long and rocky history. In the mid-1990s, PepsiCo launched the short-lived, 70-calorie Pepsi XL, “X” for excellent taste, “L” for 50% less sugar.
In 2004, PepsiCo unveiled 70-calorie Pepsi Edge, while Coca-Cola pushed C2; the brands subsequently disappeared from shelves in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
Bill Pecoriello, CEO of Consumer Edge Research, also emphasized the importance of taste, after Mr. d’Amore’s announcement.
“The consumer wants calorie reduction. If you can give half calorie with no taste sacrifice, there’s a product there for the consumer,” Pecoriello said. “C2 and Pepsi Edge failed and taste was a major issue. [Consumers] are not willing to sacrifice taste for half the calories when you have Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi out there. Something like a Pepsi Next, if it could achieve the taste profile, could be incremental for the category.”
“Pepsi and Coke need to keep consumers drinking their colas,” John Sicher, Beverage Digest’s editor and publisher, said. By his count, in 1995, colas accounted for about 65% of the carbonated soft-drink business in the U.S. Today, it’s about 55%.
“When some consumers switch from regular colas, they try diets, don’t like the taste and move on to water or other categories,” Sicher added. “This is an attempt by Pepsi to come up with another tool to keep consumers in their cola franchise. The theory is that a mid-cal can taste better than a diet to some consumers and appeal to consumers who are moving away from the regular brands.”
Despite the failure, Pepsi never stops trying to reinvent products in order to tickle the taste buds of its customers. The customers hope that the company will learn on its mistakes and launch Pepsi Next despite vast competitions in the world of beverage business worldwide. [Via Huff Post]