“People are really struggling with diet sodas, because they’ve had to sacrifice on taste,” founder and CEO of DRY Soda, Sharelle Klaus, told BeverageDaily.
DRY Soda launched its clean-label, sugar-sweetened soda range, DRY Sparkling, in 2005 and Klaus wanted to make sure the timing was right before offering a diet option since the availability of a natural, zero-calorie sweetener with a taste profile close to real sugar was sparse until recently.
“We decided we finally wanted to put our hats in the ring with a diet product, but for me, I only wanted to do this if we could make it really taste good.”
DRY ZERO Sugar organic sodas were designed with an emphasis on flavor launching in four SKUs - cola, mountain berry, peach tea, and island fruit – all sweetened with an organic stevia leaf extract without a bitter after taste, according to Klaus.
“They (DRY Zero Sugar sodas) are definitely bolder, fuller-flavored and sweeter than our DRY Sparkling line, but still much less sweet than a diet soda,” she said.
The brand also wanted to distinguish the line even further by packaging DRY Zero Sugar in bright aluminum cans featuring custom artwork by Spanish artist Catalina Estrada.
“Packaging is a really key component for me when drinking a beverage, because I think you also drink it with your eyes,” Klaus added.
DRY Soda is available nationwide at Kroger, Target, and Safeway locations in six-packs of 12-ounce cans for a suggested retail price of $5.99 to $6.99.
Declining category spells opportunity
Sparkling water launches have been on a streak lately as consumers move away from diet and full-sugar soda, but Klaus said she has always found opportunity in declining categories.
“When things are declining, that means it's ripe for really doing some innovation and answering the needs of what the consumer wants. They haven’t stopped wanting bubbles, they just didn’t like what they were getting.”
As more brands launch their own versions of sparkling water, DRY Soda has an advantage in the diet soda category where there has been less activity outside of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Zevia, Klaus added.
“I think what you're going to see in the next 18 to 24 months is about a thousand more sparkling waters,” Klaus said.
“I still think sparkling waters will continue to grow but there is a segment of people that truly want full flavor and we can offer them that in an organic form which is going to make people, I think, feel really good.”