Coca-Cola and Pepsi rival adding bold new soda alternative flavor

Sometimes brands go too far in embracing emerging trends. That can produce cringe-worthy moments like one of your parents liking your Instagram post or TikTok video meant for your friends.

Coca-Cola’s Creations, an effort by the brand to create new social-media-ready flavors feels a bit like that. It’s an effort to be young and cool, by a brand that’s warm, familiar, and even beloved, but decidedly not hip.

Related: McDonald’s menu brings back beloved seasonal fan-favorite item

If Coke was a person, it’s not someone you’d expect to be hanging out with Marshmello closing down the club. Coca-Cola might know the electronic dance musician, but more in the way 82-year-old Patriots owner Robert Kraft is friends with Meek Mill. Sure, there’s a relationship there, but nobody believes that the octogenarian businessman and the 36-year-old rapper hang out in the same places.

Coca-Cola (KO) – Get Free Report, however, wants to compete with trendier brands like Celsius, Logan Paul’s Prime, and energy drink leader, Red Bull. Creations lets Coke create limited-edition flavors designed more for social media attention than people actually drinking them. The latest entry in the line, Coca-Cola Y3000, seems both ambitious and a little ridiculous.  

“Created to show us an optimistic vision of what’s to come, where humanity and technology are more connected than ever. For the first time, Coca‑Cola Y3000 was co-created with artificial intelligence to help bring the flavor of tomorrow to Coke fans,” the company shared on its website. 

That followed the flavor created with Marshmello and another in partnership with Riot Games that offered “+XP flavor,” whatever that might be.

DJs generally are not known for their ability to create soda flavors.

Image source: Coca-Cola

Coke and Pepsi have few real rivals

Coca-Cola and its chief rival PepsiCo dominate the soda market. KeurigDrPepper follows in a distant third place with every other soda maker just being niche players. In one category, however, energy drinks, soda’s big two has a real rival.

Red Bull, which sold over 12 billion cans in 2023, had controlled 39.5% of the soda market in 2022, a year when its sales were slightly lower at 11.6 billion cans, according to data from Statista. In 2023, Red Bull claimed 43% of the global market share, according to another report.

That’s a considerable thorn in the side of Coke and Pepsi which both have a variety of plays in the energy drink market. Coke owns a share of the number two player, Monster, while PepsiCo owns RockStar Energy, sells energy drinks under its MTN Dew brand, and holds an 8.5% stake in Celsius, a rising player in the market. 

Red Bull, however, has established a strong market that Coke and Pepsi have not been able to cut into. One way the independent energy drink company has been able to do that is by offering seasonal flavors that reenage customers while fitting within the brand’s carefully crafted image.

Red Bull plans a new summer flavor

Original Red Bull does not have a named flavor. The company has also chosen to not give any insight as to what taste it’s going for with its namesake product (which tastes very similar to the sugar free version). 

“People claim Red Bull’s flavor to be similar to [Red] licorice. However, others have speculated that the drink is more citrusy, calling to mind oranges and lemons with its noticeable tang,” The Daily Meal reported.

Others think that classic Red Bull tastes vaguely of cherry cough syrup.

With its limited-time-offer (LTO) flavors, Red Bull takes a more natural approach. It generally names the flavor so customers know what to expect and that’s what it has done for its next summer LTO.

“Red Bull will drop a Curuba-Elderflower as their summer 2024 edition,”  food and drink influencer Markie Devo reported on his Instagram page.

And, while the name says it all, not everyone knows what curuba or elderflower taste like.

“Curuba is a banana passion fruit which is rich in aroma and distinctively sweet and sour in taste. Elderflower is described as a uniquely fresh, fruity, green, and slightly floral with subtle pear, lychee, and tropical nuances(via Google). This mix sounds very tropical with a hint of floral. A little weird but I’m excited to try it,” he posted.

The new flavor should be released to stores in May.

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