Cola wars continue as Vanilla Coke hits Europe

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coca-cola

Five months after its initial launch, and just as the diet version
hits the shelves in the US, Vanilla Coke is to be launched in
Europe. Sweden will be the first country on this side of the
Atlantic to get the drink, followed by the rest of Scandinavia,
France, Germany and the UK.

Coca-Cola, the world's top soft drinks company, announced on Wednesday the European launch of Vanilla Coke, the cola variant that has helped revive flagging sales since its US launch five months ago.

First up in Europe is Sweden, where the first cans rolled off the production line at a Stockholm canning plant on Wednesday, the Atlanta, Georgia-based group said in a statement.

Vanilla Coke - described as "an intriguing, smooth, one of a kind combination"​ - is a key element in Coca-Cola's self-reinvention that will see the launch next year of an updated logo and the roll-out of new flavours.

The maker of some of the best-known drinks brands on the planet hopes new ones will reinvigorate a flagging sales trend - the company recently announced unexpectedly slow core volume growth for the third quarter.

The new drink has already sold 60 million cases since its US launch five months ago, and Coca-Cola Europe spokesman Jonathan Chandler told Reuters​ the company planned to launch in France, Germany and the UK within 12 months.

We can't really put a number on market share or value or volume, but we're looking to develop Vanilla Coke as a main product brand in its own right,"​ Chandler said.

"Vanilla Coke has to be a profits drink, but we also want it to be a boost for the whole franchise,"​ he added.

The Nordic countries were chosen as the site for the European debut because of the huge popularity of the Coca-Cola brands there - Icelanders drink more Coca-Cola per head than any other nation in the world.

Marketing will exhort consumers to "reward your curiosity", with sales efforts supported by a TV campaign, giveaways in "style bars" and in shopping malls.

Vanilla Coke is the latest weapon in Coca-Cola's ongoing battle with arch rival PepsiCo which has already seen both companies launch lemon-flavoured variants of their cola brands. These are being gradually rolled out worldwide - for example, Pepsi Twist, which PepsiCo claims is the original lemon cola, will be launched in France next year, some six months after Coke's version - but PepsiCo has not, as yet, launched a vanilla variant.

The likelihood is that Diet Vanilla Coke, launched just last month in the US, will follow its parent brand into Europe.

Both companies have also been developing their non-cola brands - with PepsiCo's Tropicana unit, for example, launching A Touch of Milk, a juice/milk blend similar to that created by French dairy group Danone, and Coca-Cola creating a chocolate milk drink, Choglit, in association with Nestle.

Related topics: Carlsberg, R&D

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