- Coca-Cola announced Wednesday it is changing Diet Coke’s design and rolling out a new marketing campaign for the beverage.
- The company is also launching new Diet Coke flavors – including Feisty Cherry and Twisted Mango – but keeping the classic Diet Coke unchanged.
- Diet Coke has struggled in recent years, with sales dropping 1.9% in 2016.
Coca-Cola is making massive changes to Diet Coke.
On Wednesday, the beverage giant announced it is rolling out modernized Diet Coke packaging and a new ad campaign, as well as new flavors. The classic Diet Coke will remain unchanged, but it will be joined by four new flavors: Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange, and Twisted Mango.
Coca-Cola said in a press release it spent two years developing the new flavors and bottles, testing more than 30 new Diet Coke flavors.
For the last few years, Diet Coke has been the weakest link in the company’s cola lineup. In October, Coca-Cola reported the brand’s sales by volume declined in the mid-single digits last quarter. Industry publication Beverage Digest reported Diet Coke US sales by the dollar dropped 1.9% in 2016.
Despite being a zero-calorie drink, Diet Coke has struggled to win over many health-conscious shoppers.
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Americans are increasingly cutting sugar out of their diets, meaning that they’re drinking less of sugary sodas. But shoppers remain suspicious of Diet Coke’s use of artificial ingredients.
“Diet CSD [carbonated soft drinks] sales were supposed to be the solution to the industry’s calorie dilemma,” Monica Kvamme, a consultant at Zenith Global Ltd, said at Beverage Digest’s Market Smarts conference in December. “But, that was short-lived, as diet sales peaked in 2005 and have been falling ever since.”
Since 2005, diet soda sales have dropped a whopping 34%.
With the brand revamp, Coca-Cola is attempting to replicate the success of its Coke Zero relaunch in 2017. In August, Coca-Cola stopped selling Coke Zero in the US, replacing it with a beverage with a different recipe, design, and name: Coke Zero Sugar. The company previously made a similar change in other countries, including the UK.
There was immediate backlash to the announcement. However, after the new recipe rolled out in the US, unit case volume doubled compared to the prior quarter. In the UK, where the Coke Zero Sugar rollout began in 2016, growth continues in the double-digits.
Coca-Cola has resisted a similar reformulation for Diet Coke due to concerns over alienating loyal fans of the beverage.
With the new brand revamp, the company hopes to manage the best of both worlds – avoiding the fury of loyalists while making some necessary changes to finally grow Diet Coke’s sales.