French wary over Coca-Cola's coffee cola

By Chris Mercer in France

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coca-cola

As Coca-Cola prepares to launch mid-calorie cola containing coffee
in France, the group faces a challenge to win over sceptical
consumers who view the move as more of a gimmick.

Coca-Cola announced the first launch of its Coca-Cola Blak drink would be in France next month.

Blak contains "twice the caffeine of regular coke, a third less than the average cup of coffee and well below what's normally in energy drinks"​, Steve Leroy, Coca-Cola Europe spokesperson, told www.BeverageDaily.com​.

The group presented Blak, which has a coffee-like froth when poured, as a whole new soft drinks category.

"This brand is ideal for any part of the day when people are looking for renewed energy or simply to take a break,"​ said Marc Mathieu, vice-president of Coca-Cola's Global Core Brands.

The firm is aiming Blak at the young adult market in France. It will contain around 47 calories per 25cl can and therefore be positioned as a mid-calorie, carbonated beverage.

Leroy denied that the launch was specifically designed to reinvigorate stumbling sales for Coca-Cola's carbonated drinks division.

"We are looking forward. Several innovations have taken place, and more will be taking place in the next few months. Rather than say this is to beef-up sales that have been rather slow, Blak is just one in a series of products we will launch."

Leroy said France was chosen as the start-point because it was an important market with demand for stylish products.

Young French consumers in Montpellier, however, were wary. "It is a bit strange. I might try it because I like trying new things, but I'm not convinced,"​ said Corine Mesquida, sitting at a café terrace.

Adeline Dulic, taking a mid-morning break, said: "I don't think it's a good idea. We are artisans in France, we are used to things like good coffee and fine wines, not things like this."

Blak may well have more success in Paris, which has become increasingly seen by food firms as a good testing ground for stylish, new products.

Coca-Cola has already done well with a similar, non-carbonated drink in Japan, called Georgia Coffee. And PepsiCo recently launched a new Pepsi Max cola with cappuccino flavouring, despite having abandoned its coffee-cola drink Kona in the 1990s.

Coca-Cola's Leroy said Blak incorporated elements of many drinks categories.

"Today's consumer is used to this. If you look at many aspects of consumption of durable goods, you see fusions and cross-overs. It is highly difficult to put categories on these kinds of products."

The group is planning to expand Blak into other countries, with the US rumoured in reports to be high on the list for the first half of next year.

Related topics: Tea and Coffee, Carlsberg, R&D

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