Milk, it seems, is the next product to get the major marketing makeover. For years a staple product in most western diets, milk has become increasingly important in recent years not least because of growing awareness of the health benefits of regular calcium intake.
As usual, the marketing people have not been slow to realise the potential that milk now has, and as a result we have seen increasing numbers of major food and drink producers try to get in on the act.
Just last week we reported on the launch in the UK of a new juice/milk blend soft drink by Britvic, following in the footsteps of similar drinks from the likes of Tropicana (PepsiCo) and Danone. And last year Coca-Cola, perhaps the company with the finest pedigree when it comes to marketing soft drinks, unveiled its plans to produce a chocolate milk drink, called Choglit, in association with Nestlé.
Now Cadbury Schweppes, the London-based confectionery and drinks group, has announced that it too is to get in on the act with the launch of a range of flavoured milk drinks under the brand name Raging Cow.
Produced by Cadbury's subsidiary, Dr Pepper/Seven Up (DPSU), the new drink was launched yesterday prior to a rollout in selected US markets from March, with nationwide distribution coming soon after.
DPSU already claims to be the leading producer of non-cola drinks in the US, with a 16 per cent share of the carbonates market there, and it is clearly keen to get a major foothold in the fast-growing milk-based segment.
"Raging Cow is a very different way of looking at flavoured dairy drinks," said the company's president and chief operating officer, Mike McGrath, who could not resist the temptation of a few dairy-related puns.
"This product does not have a herd mentality and therefore is unlike any other milk-based product on the market. We describe it as a milk-based drink 'gone wild' because there are outrageous, intriguing and delicious flavour combinations. Raging Cow also creates a new opportunity in our portfolio of offerings."
He said that consumer testing had shown that there was substantial demand for innovation in the flavoured milk market segment - a market which has been around for some time but which has perennially been restricted to standard flavour variants such as banana, chocolate or strawberry.
"With flavours such as Pina Colada Chaos, Jamocha Frenzy, Berry Mixed Up, Chocolate Caramel Craze and Chocolate Insanity, Raging Cow has something for everyone," McGrath claimed.
"The consumer research we conducted helped us identify young adults as the primary audience for Raging Cow, although anyone who likes milk is likely to embrace this product," explained Andrew Springate, DPSU's director of brand marketing.
There was no indication of whether the flavoured milk drink will be available in international markets in due course, nor was there any mention of the health benefits of milk in the company's marketing - these are clearly meant to be fun drinks rather than healthy products.
In fact, flavoured milk brands have sometimes been criticised for in fact increasing sugar intake, and have therefore been wary of playing too heavily on the health card, although evidence from the US in June would suggest that even flavoured milk can be an excellent source of calcium.