Soft drink giant Coca-Cola, facing a stiff challenge from arch rival PepsiCo in the crucial North American market, on Monday unveiled a new vanilla-flavoured version of its flagship Coke brand, reports Reuters.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said it would begin distributing the drink in the United States on 15 May. A separate roll-out is planned for Canada several weeks later.
Coca-Cola executives said the new drink had been on the drawing board for several months and had been launched after positive feedback from a cross-section of consumers in North America.
"It has a broad range of appeal all the way from teens to young adults and adults," said Chris Lowe, Coca-Cola's senior vice president for worldwide brands and advertising. "Vanilla seems to cross the generational gap the same way that Coca-Cola does."
The arrival of the vanilla-flavored drink came amid a flurry of product roll-outs by both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in the United States, as the soft drink titans battle for market share in the United States, their largest and most important market.
"It's the first line extension in a long time to the biggest brand in the industry and it's happening at a time when innovation and new products are driving growth," said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, a leading industry newsletter.
Vanilla Coke will be packaged with graphics that combine old and new elements of the Coca-Cola brand name, trademark and motif. The soft drink maker also announced it had redesigned its Cherry Coke drink to incorporate a similar look.
Coca-Cola recently unveiled Diet Coke with lemon and is reintroducing its popular fruit-flavoured Fanta brand. New-York based PepsiCo has launched lemon-flavoured Pepsi Twist and Mountain Dew Code Red, a variation of its Mountain Dew soft drink.
Analysts said the product launches highlighted the intense see-saw battle for soft drink supremacy in the US market. Although both companies have scored successes, PepsiCo has been credited by some for better execution of product rollouts and marketing.