What Sprite did right: How the brand is thriving in a challenging CSD market

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sprite is winning the fight in the CSD category, according to Kantar. Pic: getty/asbe
Sprite is winning the fight in the CSD category, according to Kantar. Pic: getty/asbe

Related tags: Coca-cola, sprite, Kantar worldpanel, Marketing

Kantar Worldpanel highlights Sprite as a ‘top performer’ in its global rankings of the most chosen consumer brands, on the basis of its worldwide penetration and number of interactions with consumers. So what has Sprite done right in a shaky market for carbonated soft drinks?

According to its Brand Footprint report, 2017 saw beverage brands lose a combined two billion CRPs (Kantar’s ‘consumer reach point’ measure), ​with top brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nescafe and Milo all seeing declines.

“Yet Sprite defies the slowdown, gaining CRPs for the second year running through strong growth in key markets,”​ says the report.  

Comedians and cucumber

While perhaps sometimes overshadowed by its big brother Coca-Cola, Sprite is nevertheless the world’s no 3 soft drink worldwide.

The lemon-lime flavored carbonated soft drink was introduced by Coca-Cola in 1961, and is now sold in more than 190 countries worldwide.

Describing Sprite as a ‘top performer’, Kantar outlines its recipe for success in various markets.

Top brands

Coca-Cola remains the world’s most chosen consumer brand, according to Kantar Worldpanel’s ranking of the top global consumer brands; while Sprite is highlighted as a fast growing global brand.

Pepsi comes in at number 6, Nescafe at number 7, and Sprite at number 17, according to its Brand Footprint report which ranks the world’s most chosen consumer brands.

Its ‘consumer reach point’ (CRP) metric measures the penetration of the brand and the number of interactions consumers have with the brand every year.  

“In the US, where it gained the most CRPs globally, Sprite increased penetration amongst younger consumers — recruiting basketball star LeBron James to drive awareness. American consumers also chose Sprite more often to accompany dinners and lunches, both at home and on-the-go, as well as for treat occasions."

Coca-Cola's eastern European bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) identifies light, adult flavors​ as a key driver for the CSD category: and Kantar Worldpanel agrees that these refreshing flavors have been important for the brand. 

“In Russia, Sprite increased CRPs by 16%. Product innovation was key—especially Sprite Cucumber, which offered a new taste and experience. Its success was such that Sprite would otherwise show a decline in Russia."

In Asia marketing campaigns with celebrities have helped drive the brand forward.

“Sprite used a combination of marketing and innovation in Indonesia to grow CRPs there by 9%. Its “Nyatanya Nyegerin” (Truly Refreshing) campaign included TV commercials featuring voiceovers from popular local comedian Cak Lontong, while it targeted a younger demographic and specific price tier (IDR 3,500) with a new 250ml format— helping grow penetration by 2% in middle-income households.

“Above-the-line campaigns in South Korea – such as one with a member of K-pop girl group Apink – created more moments with younger shoppers and a 23% increase in CRPs. Messages such as “Sprite & Meal” positioned the soft drink as the perfect accompaniment."

UK revival

In the UK, brand Sprite enjoyed something of a comeback and is being further revitalized this year.

 “A resurgence in the UK saw Sprite achieve a 1.5% increase in penetration and 19% growth in CRPs— spearheaded by its Regular and Zero variants. Regular found new shoppers in Asda supermarkets, while Zero saw penetration gains in retailers including the discounter Aldi.​”

In 2018, Sprite has undergone a number of developments in the UK: such as the launch of Sprite Lemon Lime and Cucumber No Sugar, and a brand refresh​ across the portfolio: the biggest investment Coca-Cola has made in the brand over the last five years.

It has also reformulated the recipe for its regular version: further reducing sugar and calories but ditching stevia,​ turning away from its 2013 decision to use the natural sweetener.

The reformulation takes the brand down to 3.3g sugar / 100ml: escaping the UK’s sugar tax:​​​ compared to the stevia version which, at 6.6g, would have been subject to the levy (which kicks in at 5g/100ml).

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