Mid-calorie soda gamble: Pepsi True hits test markets in Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coca-cola, Soft drink, High-fructose corn syrup, Pepsi

Pepsi True contains carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavor, caffeine, and purified stevia leaf extract and is available in 7.5oz cans, 10-oz cans & 12-oz glass bottles
Pepsi True contains carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavor, caffeine, and purified stevia leaf extract and is available in 7.5oz cans, 10-oz cans & 12-oz glass bottles
PepsiCo is rolling out its mid-calorie cola Pepsi True at selected retailers in Denver, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. following a soft launch on Amazon to assess demand.

PepsiCo did not comment on why these cities had been chosen or whether the stevia-and-sugar-sweetened product had performed as it had hoped on Amazon, but confirmed that it had started to hit stores this week.

Coca-Cola, meanwhile, has also been tight-lipped about the performance of Coca-Cola Life (which is now available nationwide), although a November 2014 report from consultancy Haynes & Co claimed that it had an “undeniable hit”​ on its hands (click HERE​).

While both products convey a more ‘natural’ positioning with green packaging, PepsiCo is more overt with its messaging for Pepsi True (which has 30% fewer calories than regular Pepsi), noting that the product has ‘no high fructose corn syrup’ and ‘no artificial sweeteners either’ in bold type on the back of the pack.

Pepsi True is a niche product in our portfolio

Speaking to reporters late last year​, Pepsi Beverages North America chief marketing officer Simon Lowden said Pepsi True was designed to “get back to the fun and refreshing side of cola", ​but also acknowledged that mid-calorie soda was still a small - albeit potentially exciting - segment in the overall carbonates market, which has been struggling for several years.

pepsi True tweet
Tweet from Beverage Digest

He added: “We recognize at the moment that Pepsi True is a niche product in our portfolio. We want to be at the right size and the right scale to accommodate the 'mid- calorie' segment, which is still small today."

While unit sales of full sugar carbonated soft drinks rose 1% in the year to Nov 22, 2014, unit sales of diet/low calorie carbonates slumped 6.9% over the same period (Nielsen data supplied by Wells Fargo).

Which pack design do you prefer? Pepsi True or Coca-Cola Life? Click HERE​ to see what one design expert thinks...

Interested in new beverage trends? Tune into our online Beverage Innovation Summit ​ on February 4 and hear from speakers including:

  • Janie Hoffman​: Founder & CEO, Mamma Chia
  • Bill Moses:​ Co-founder & CEO, KeVita
  • Valentina Cugnasca:​ Co-founder & CEO, Vertical Water
  • Chris Reed:​ Founder & CEO, Reed’s
  • Pamela Naumes:​ Senior director of brand engagement,  Bolthouse Farms
  • Reuben Canada​: Founder & CEO, Jin+Ja
  • Steve Jones:​ CEO, Fairlife​ 
  • Seth Goldman:​ Co-founder & TeaEO, Honest Tea
  • Shaun Roberts:​ Founder & CEO, KonaRed

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