COMMENTARY | The Associated Press reports that Coca-Cola is going to try a new mid-calorie soda in four select markets. The new mid-calorie sodas will available only in the Sprite and Fanta drinks, and contain half the calories of a regular soda. This news comes within the same year that competitor PepsiCo launched Pepsi Next, which is also a half-calorie soda, but comes in the popular Pepsi drink. As an avid diet soda lover, here is why this news is going to be both good and bad for Coca-Cola in the future.
As a fond diet cola drinker, I find this news to be questionable by Coca-Cola, because it is only available in the Fanta and Sprite brands. If Coca-Cola was really serious about making a mid-calorie soda, then it would make more sense to offer that in the Coca-Cola drink. Fanta and Sprite are both disgusting and do not have the same appeal to consumers as Coca-Cola, and this is likely going to doom the new mid-calorie test. I do not know of anyone that drinks Fanta, and have only known a few people that drink Sprite, so there likely is not a huge market for these types of drinks. At least when PepsiCo came out with Pepsi Next, it was done using Pepsi, which is one of the most well-known Pepsi products out on the market. I have personally tried Pepsi Next and Dr. Pepper Ten and loved them almost as much as I do diet cola, because it does not make me feel jittery like a regular soda.
There will be some interest in this new mid-calorie soda as more people become health-conscious, but children will not be in this group. Growing up all I can remember is drinking diet soda, so that is something I am used to, but most children would cringe at the thought of drinking something diet. Coca-Cola did try a mid-calorie soda in the past, when C2 was introduced in 2001, which bombed with consumers because of the taste. There has been a huge push to get soda away from children since there is so much sugar in the drinks, which has added to the obesity problem in America. If Coca-Cola wanted to really help consumers, another type of C2 would be brought out into the market, with a focus on less sugar and the same Coca-Cola taste.
Only testing the new drinks in a few markets is not going to be enough to get people interested, since only a fraction of soda drinkers will have the ability to buy it. Not to mention the fact that the new mid-calorie drinks will use Truvia, which is one of the worst artificial sweeteners on the market. If Coca-Cola wanted the drinks to taste good, Splenda or Equal would have been used instead, since these are the two artificial sweeteners that most people have heard of, and they both taste like real sugar.