Coca-Cola isn’t phoning it in here. It launched an over-the-top TV ad featuring a 1970s-style car chase late last month, and the next time you head into your local grocery store, you shouldn’t be surprised to find a fair amount of Coca-Cola’s shelf space has been dedicated to the new flavor, which evokes nostalgic notes of Dreamsicle orange-popsicle-coated vanilla ice cream treats.
Orange you glad
Introducing new products is part of the art of being Coca-Cola. It rolls out hundreds of new lines a year, globally. It has seen the writing on the wall when it comes to the consumption trends of sugary soft drinks, a segment that has experienced declines in the U.S. every year since 2004. Coca-Cola has spent the past few years snapping up niche beverage companies to wean itself off its bread-and-butter soft drink stronghold. It hasn’t shied away from cutting big checks for Odwalla fruit juices, Fuze teas, ZICO coconut water, and Glaceau vitamin-fortified water. Last summer, it struck a $5.1 billion deal for Costa coffees, a platform with a bean-roasting presence in more than 30 different countries.
One trend that has helped spark renewed interest in canned and bottled beverages is the boom in flavored sparkling waters. Coca-Cola tried to tap that vein early last year by introducing new Diet Coke varieties. Offering up new fruity flavors including Ginger Lime and Twisted Mango in slim cans was supposed to appeal to jaded millennials hooked on LaCroix offerings. It recently added Strawberry Guava and Blueberry Acai to its Diet Coke product line, but the new Orange Vanilla Coke is the first new stateside rollout for the beverage behemoth’s Coke Zero brand in years.
You have to go all the way back to 2007 — when Coca-Cola added Vanilla Coke Zero to its existing Cherry Coke Zero — to find the last new flavor for its sugar-free Coca-Cola Zero brand. If anything it’s surprising that it took Coca-Cola this long to get around to expanding its offerings on that front. A Coca-Cola marketing manager told AdAge last month that cherry- and vanilla-flavored Cokes account for roughly 9% of the brand’s dollar volume but are driving 18% of the dollar growth.