For decades Coca-Cola (KO) – Get a free report and PepsiCo (DYNAMISM) – Get a free report fought over which one tasted the best cola. This led to the famous “Pepsi Challenge” marketing campaign, which began in 1975 and has been used periodically since then.
The principle was simple. People were asked to taste both Pepsi and Coke in a blind taste test and, at least according to the ads, Pepsi was the clear winner.
In reality, people swear by one brand over another, and the question “which is better?” is really reserved for marketing campaigns and individual tastes.
Coke and Pepsi’s battle for supremacy has spanned all sorts of different soda zones. Both have recently changed their “zero sugar” recipes (using the word diet is now taboo). And PepsiCo also recently killed off its lemon-lime brand Sierra Mist, replacing it with Starry, another attempt to dethrone Coke’s Sprite.
In recent years, this battle has expanded beyond sodas to juices, water, energy drinks, iced teas, and more. That’s largely because soda sales peaked in the United States in 1999.
“After peaking in the late 1990s, per capita soft drink consumption has fallen every year since,” wrote IbisWorld. “The reasons for this drop are twofold: an increase in health awareness and an increase in prices. Carbonated drinks have little nutritional value, although many of these drinks provide a recommended daily intake of sugar in a can of 12 ounces.”
It’s a take on why. In reality, it is also possible that consumers simply have a lot more choice and opt for other beverages.
Coca-Cola gets into mixers
Recently, Coke and Pepsi have been dipping their toes into alcoholic beverages. It is an adjacent space where the two have chosen to work with partners.
In June 2021, PepsiCo launched a new line of non-alcoholic mixers designed to capitalize on the growing market for craft cocktails.
“The premium mixers, called Unmuddled, will hit shelves in September,” Spirit Business reported at the time. “The line comes in three flavor variations, which are made with juice and contain no artificial sweeteners.”
Pepsi’s Unmuddled line includes:
- Lemon Mint, which the company describes as “cool, tangy, refreshing and light”, with a herbal note designed to accompany tequila, gin or whisky.
- fiery pineapple matches its namesake fruit with a spicy twist and is suggested to be mixed with vodka, rum, tequila or mezcal.
- spicy mandarinwhich is designed to mix “seamlessly” with any spirit, although tequila, gin or whiskey are recommended
A few months before launching Unmuddled, PepsiCo launched Neon Zebra, another line of non-alcoholic mixers.
“They’re designed to appeal to younger consumers who are spending more time at home and want to avoid complicated cocktail recipes or large-format mixers,” RetailDive reported.
Now, Coca-Cola has followed its longtime rival into the craft cocktail mixer space.
Coca-Cola’s Simply brand launches range of mixers
Coke’s Simply brand was one of the company’s juice efforts. Its core line features juices, lemonades, and almond milk marketed as all-natural. Today, the brand has branched out into cocktail mixers with an offering called Simply Mixology.
“The line of fruit-flavored, all-natural juice drinks, made with the same close-to-nature ingredients fans have come to expect from Simply Beverages’ rapidly growing portfolio, are designed to be enjoyed with or without alcohol,” said said Coca-Cola. in a press release.
“Three Simply Mixology varieties – Strawberry Guava Mojito, Lime Margarita and Peach Sour – will be available starting January 23 in 52-ounce bottles in refrigerated grocery store shelves across the United States.”
Coca-Cola pointed out that the new range responds to several trends: an increase in cocktail consumption and more people drinking mocktails.
“We’ve known that Simply has been a favorite mixer for 20 years. You can make a mean screwdriver with Simply Orange Juice, a great Cape Codder with Simply Cranberry and a great margarita with Simply Limeade,” adds Alex Ames, Creative Director for Nutrition. at Coca-Cola North America.
“With Simply Mixology, we wanted to find a way to simplify and enhance the at-home drinking experience with natural, great-tasting solutions that aren’t just amazing mixers, but also ready-to-drink mocktails.” Coca-Cola added.