Battle of mid-calorie sodas begins, but “taste cloud” may hang over them.

PepsiTrueOK, as reported last week in a nice piece in the Huffington Post Online, here comes Pepsico with their cokelifemid-calorie soda, new Pepsi True. This is Pepsi’s answer to Coca Cola Life, the Atlanta soda juggernaut’s mid-calorie entry reported on, somewhat derisively, here on SME Brand Leverage blog, September 5.

Guess the only place where you can buy Pepsi True?

Now, while Coke is apparently going to market and sell Life pretty much in line with traditional soft drink retailing, i.e. distribution in grocery and convenience stores; media advertising, promotion and social media support, Pepsi True is using a very different and more limited distribution attack, exclusively selling on Amazon ONLY. Maybe they’ll cross promote with diet books.

Whether this reflects Pepsi’s more conservative expectations for their mid-calorie player, or just a phased “wait and see” approach before they expand to broader distribution and availability, we’ll see.

Here’s where it gets a little confusing.

Both True and Life are sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia, a sugar substitute derived from plants that has essentially no calories (more on “stevia” below). Pepsi True contains 60 calories in a little slight of hand using a 7 1/2  ounce can; Coca Cola Life at least stands up straight and tall in its “big boy” pants in a traditional, full size 11.2 ounce can, and clocks in at 89 calories. In “normal” size (11.2 ounces) cans, they would both have nearly equal calories. So I guess Pepsi wins the calorie lightweight title using some packaging sleight of hand, but gee, what if you’re still thirsty and need to drink two of them?

(Just for the record and comparison, full size can of regular Coke has around 140 calories.)

This dive off the we-can-make-our-mid-calorie-soda-lower-than-yours board comes less than a week after Pepsi joined Coca Cola in promising to cut calories in its beverages by 20 percent, buckling under the “Fight Obesity” war cries of the world’s Food Nazis.

cokelife_canonlyPEPSI-TRUE-caseSo, is everything going to be oh-so-tasty in Mid-Calorie Land? Again, we’ll see.

This is where this “experiment” in skinny living and soda drinking is going to get interesting.

The beverage companies are getting desperate to offset rather meaningful declines in their diet soda volumes, probably a partial result of the “diet” products having having an undesirable aftertaste. As the HuffPo article lays out, now the soda giants are counting on stevia to revitalize their “lower” calories products.

But there’s a potential problem with stevia: formulas using it are sometimes perceived as having a bitter, sometimes licorice-esque aftertaste that’s unattractive to some drinkers. Earlier this year, Coca Cola’s Vitaminwater reformulated using stevia in its formula. The customer blowback was pretty rough and caused Coca Cola to retreat and return to the original formula within only one month of the change.

So, yes, we’ll see how these new “stevia” based reformulations are accepted. Companies can make mistakes. Remember “New Coke”? How bout “Pepsi Next”?

Original Pepsi  and Coca Cola drinkers may scrunch up their noses when they taste Pepsi True and Coca Cola Life. sour face

Of course they may like the new mid-calorie sodas “enough,” that they just grin and bear it….

and keep trying to squeeze into those pants that used to fit.

Please follow us on Twitter: @MrSMEbranding

And “Like” us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/smebrandleverage

 

Advertisements

“Heil” the Food Nazis … Free Brand Choice & Personal Responsibility Defeated

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the Dr Pepper Snapple soft drink makers have buckled to the Food Nazis and “promised” to lower their drinks’ calories by 20% over the next decade. alfred army

“War on Obesity” in Full Swing Now

The three largest U.S. soft drink marketers have committed to lower their drinks’ calories by 20% over the next decade. Cast as an unprecedented effort by the beverage industry to fight obesity in the U.S., the commitment was announced yesterday at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York and lauded by ex-President Clinton (who, being married to Hillary, is probably worried about her weight trajectory anyway).

Now that we have full buy-in for the War on Obesity, I guess things will change dramatically. We will go from a nation of “little piggies”:ATT00011

To, perhaps, a country of wonderful physical specimens, perhaps something along the lines of this “Nazi family” propaganda poster of 1938:

new people of Germany

1-2-3 Let’s Change What “Thirsts” Soda Quenches

We now are going to have an industry-wide tinkering with the raison d’être of the soft drink category and brands. For what is “soda”, actually, outside of being a sometimes cloyingly sweetened beverage. Well, it IS a beverage, but why do people drink it, surely not because they NEED it and not to become obese. The emotional payoffs for soda consumption are really connected at some level with emotional experiences, way beyond, even if unconsciously, quenching one’s thirst. A reward, a distraction from a painful experience/event, a childhood memory, a connected reminiscence of someone or something … the reasons are many and varied.

But not so fast Tonto. Your emotional payoff-delivery-system, i.e. your soda, is going to have its ingredients modified, its portions downsized and who know what else.

And gee, that didn’t take long…seems like just a couple weeks ago in my September 5 Coca Cola Life post I wrote:sadface

“Over time in our increasingly regulated societies, sweetened beverages will come under increasing pressures on all sides, much as cigarettes today….sad, but that’s the way it will likely play out…”

Don’t Worry, You Aren’t Responsible & It Will Be Good For You

But don’t worry.The soft drink makers, in close coordination with their government intimidators, issued a statement concerning the category reshape that is breathtakingly Orwellian doublespeak in its nonsense.

“This initiative will help transform the beverage landscape in America,” said Susan K. Neely, president of the American Beverage Association in a statement. “It takes our efforts to provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories to an ambitious new level.”

The next thing they’ll be telling us, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Ooops, that one’s already taken. Maybe it could be, ‘It takes a village to stay slim.”

Please Check Your Personal Responsibility at the Door

OK, got it! Consumers did not ask for this “transformation,” but they sure as hell are going to get it. So much for customer choice and personal responsibility.This wonderful “transformation” will take all the pressure off the “fatties” out there and they will strictly adhere to a “government-pressured” diet plan (much like Michelle Obama’s oh so popular school lunch program). The War on Obesity is virtually won!

Oh, one quick question: Does anyone really think that fewer calories in a bottle or smaller bottles in a carton will actually keep fat people from figuring out a way to get their “soda fixes” (how about drinking more bottles) and becoming obese?

You know the answer … but because of the smart peoples’ “solution” for the “problem,” you and I will no longer have the soft drink choices WE want.

ATT00026

And I bet you, there will still be people like this …