The two beverage giants have been willing to make major changes as they battle for market dominance.
Coca-Cola used to be a company that treated its classic brands as practically sacred. A change to Coke was such a big deal that the launch of New Coke in 1985, which was either a huge debacle or a brilliant marketing plan, has been the subject of over 30 years of discussion.
In recent years, however, Coca-Cola (KO) – Get Free Report has slowly extended its core offerings by growing its biggest brands. It hasn’t been as loose with its top-tier properties as rival PepsiCo (PEP) – Get Free Report has been — we’ve never seen Coke Blue or Crystal Coke — but the company has added flavored Diet Cokes, expanded the “Zero” line while tweaking its name and even added celebrity collaborations that actually carried the coke name.
Not every move has been a winner — Coke With Coffee and Coke Energy were both discontinued in North America after very short runs — and Coke Blak, the company’s first attempt to infuse coffee into its cola is better left mostly forgotten.
Now, Coca-Cola has turned its attention to its other core brand, Sprite. That’s a soda so popular that Pepsi has tried multiple brands to capture some of its success (Slice, Storm, and Sierra Mist to name three). Recently, the number two soft drink company killed its Sierra Mist brand — its most recent Sprite stand-in — to introduce Starry, yet another lemon-lime soda.
Coke doesn’t really have to answer Pepsi’s move as Sprite remains the dominant player in the space, but it has answered its rivals new attempt to compete by introducing a new take on its classic “limon” soda.
Coca-Cola Has a New Sprite Flavor
Coca-Cola has occassionally offered flavors of Sprite include the fan favorite “Lymonade.” Now, the company plans to bring back a version of that well-regarded flavor.
“Sprite is bringing out a Strawberry Lymonade that is set to drop soon and is now being called Sprite Lymonade Legacy,” the Snackolator Instagram page reported.
The new flavor, which was shared at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show last fall will be a bit of a tweak on the previous version.
“This will be a new limited edition item that will feature a strawberry flavor to the Sprite Lymonade that has been released before. Since the announcement at NACS they have changed the name to Lymonade Legacy and it says ‘Celebrating 50 years of Hip-Hop’ on the packaging,” Snackolator shared.”As of right now it looks to be available in 12 packs of cans and 20 oz bottles — it doesn’t appear that there will be a zero sugar version which is a bummer.”
Sprite has consistently been ranked the third most-valuable soda brand behind Coke and Pepsi.
Pepsi Admits It’s Playing Catchup
Dropping Sierra Mist and starting again with Starry is a bold play for Pepsi. The company acknowledged that “demand for lemon lime flavored soda has never been greater, with category growth accelerating since 2019,” in the press release launching the never beverage.
The problem is that the growth has been Coca-Cola selling more Sprite, not rival products adding market share. Pepsi hopes to change that by adding Starry to its product lineup.
“At PepsiCo, we are hyper-focused on consumer centric innovation, and we know there’s a strong demand for lemon lime flavored soda with the category continuing to accelerate,” said PepsiCo CMO Greg Lyons. “With one product dominating the category, consumers deserve another option…one that hits different. Starry is bright, optimistic, and rooted in culture and fun.”
It’s hard to see how a soda is actually any of those things, but PepsiCo is hoping to capture younger customers with its new drink.