With fizz, spice and raspberry, Coca-Cola goes after young consumers

Coca-Cola Spiced brings new flavors in bid to reach younger customers
Cans of Coca-Cola Spiced, the beverage company's new offering, which is targeted especially at younger consumers. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Credit: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Credit: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Cans of Coca-Cola Spiced, the beverage company's new offering, which is targeted especially at younger consumers. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Coca-Cola on Wednesday introduced two versions of a high-profile new drink aimed at catering to evolving palettes and younger drinkers.

Spiced and Spiced Zero Sugar, which officials say will go on sale in the United States and Canada on Feb. 19, will blend the traditional taste of Coke with “a burst of refreshing notes from raspberry and spiced flavors,” according to the company.

The drink is “bold-tasting,” but — despite the name — “Coca-Cola Spiced is not spicy,” the company said.

Coke is constantly tinkering with product offerings and even container sizes across its international constellation of brands. In recent years, the Atlanta-based giant has expanded its holdings of energy drinks, teas, juices, coffees and water to entice younger consumers. Coke has even partnered with spirits makers in recent years on boozy versions of some of its iconic drinks.

Coke has also offered limited edition flavors, but Spiced and Spiced Zero Sugar are the first “new permanent offering to its iconic North American portfolio,” in the past three years, the company said.

Spiced is aimed at a large market, a target that Coca-Cola would like to claim a bigger piece of: Sales of carbonated soft drinks in the United States amounted to more than $88.4 billion in 2022, according to the most recent data from Beverage Digest.

But most older consumers have long since established their habits. What’s most profitably in play are younger people who are more open to new choices and those who are coming of age are just starting to make their own purchase decisions.

Competitors in that huge market are increasingly jostling each other for those younger consumers, said Duane Stanford, Beverage Digest editor and publisher.

With its iconic brand name and its muscular marketing, Coke sees this as an opportunity to expand, he said. “With growth in flavored soft drinks outpacing the overall category, Coca-Cola is clearly looking to bring some of that magic to its flagship cola in the quest to bring young consumers into the brand.”

This is hardly the company’s first foray into that segment of the market, he said. “The Creations platform is a recent best example.”

Coca-Cola Creations, a series of eight limited-edition flavors, was introduced in 2022 and was embraced by Gen Z consumers at twice the rate of Coke’s overall product line, Stanford said.

The Spiced drinks not only bear the Coca-Cola name, but they are designed with colors and script that are meant to evoke the brand, the company said.

Whatever the taste might be, the idea of spiciness is increasingly part of American consumer expectations, Coca-Cola’s North American marketing chief Shakir Moin told The Associated Press.

“If you go to the aisles, you’ll see the amount of spiciness has gone up because consumers’ taste palettes have evolved,” he said. “We realized that could be an opportunity for us. Can we dial up something which is already part of our formula and bring in a taste profile that is interesting, unique, and brings in the next generation of consumers?”

The company during the last four reported quarters had revenues of about $45 billion. In its third fiscal quarter, Coca-Cola reported sales of $12.0 billion, up 8% from the previous year.

The company reports its fourth fiscal quarter next week.

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