Coca-Cola lines up hard seltzer and cola-coffee launches: ‘We’re committed to exploring new products in dynamic beverage categories’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola to launch hard seltzer and Coca-Cola With Coffee

Related tags Coca-cola The coca-cola company hard seltzer

The Coca-Cola Company will launch a hard seltzer under its Topo Chico brand later this year; while Coca-Cola With Coffee will make its debut in the US in 2021.

Coca-Cola champions the launches as examples of good innovation in a coronavirus world. Coca-Cola With Coffee, for example, embraces the company’s ‘Lift and Shift’ strategy of quickly scaling up successful beverage innovations from market to market (Coca-Cola With Coffee was first piloted in Japan and has sinced launched in markets around the world including Australia).

Top Chico Hard Seltzer, meanwhile, marks a milestone leap from Coca-Cola into the alcoholic beverages category: specifically into the booming and growing hard selzter category. 

Hard Seltzer

Coca-Cola will launch Top Chico Hard Seltzer in Latin America later this year. It acquired Top Chico - the premium sparkling mineral water brand - in 2017​: adding it to its Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) portfolio.

Top Chico's current line-up is based on its mineral water (bottled at source in Cerro del Top Chico in northern Mexico) and its Twist naturally flavored varieties (Twist & Grapefruit; Twist & Lime).

It will now add in an alcoholic version – Top Chico Hard Seltzer – to jump into the thriving hard seltzer category.

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is an experimental drink inspired by Topo Chico sparkling mineral water, which has been popular with many mixologists,”​ says Coca-Cola, announcing the launch. “Topo Chico Hard Seltzer will be offered in select cities in Latin America later this year.”

Coca-Cola has not released any more specifics on the new line - such as ABV or flavors - promising more details will come closer to the launch date.

'Pioneering a new category we call refreshment coffee'

Coca-Cola will also launch Coca-Cola With Coffee nationwide across the US in January 2021: ‘fusing the familiar, authentic taste of Coca-Cola with the rich, luxurious flavor of 100% Brazilian coffee”.

The RTD beverage will come in three signature flavors: Dark Blend, Vanilla and Caramel. It will be packaged in 12oz cans.

coca cola with coffee

Coca-Cola heralds the upcoming launch of Coca-Cola With Coffee as “a truly unique hybrid innovation that will pioneer a new category we’re calling refreshment coffee”.

Jaideep Kibe, vice president, Coca-Cola Trademark, Coca-Cola North America, says the beverage is one of the company’s most successfully tested innovations in recent years.

In preliminary testing in the US, more than 80% of consumers who tried Coca-Cola With Coffee said they would buy it.

As to what it tastes like: “It sips like a Coke and finishes like a coffee,” ​according to Kibe.

Coca-Cola with Coffee will contain 69mg of caffeine per 12oz serving – comparable to the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee (and roughly double that of Coca-Cola Classic, which contains 34mg caffeine per 12oz serve).

‘Lift and shift’: Innovation in a COVID-19 world

Coca-Cola With Coffee was first piloted in Japan in 2018 and is already available in more than 30 markets across the world: including Australia, Brazil, Vietnam, Turkey and Italy. Each country – including the US – has tailored the recipe and packaging according to local tastes.

Coca-Cola says the launch of Coca-Cola With Coffee in the US market is an example of how it is innovating in coronavirus times: taking a drink that has been successful in a number of markets and quickly replicating that in new ones.

It calls this its ‘Lift and Shift’ approach: scaling successful beverage innovations from market to market via an experimental, test-and-learn approach.

Javier Meza, chief marketing officer for The Coca-Cola Company’s sparkling beverage portfolio, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for us to be more disciplined in how we launch, validate, refine and scale up big bets like this.

“We’re excited to bring Coca-Cola With Coffee to the US and apply learnings from so many markets that have gotten us to where we are today.”

Category blurring

Coca-Cola’s move into coffee is one of the ways it is evolving brand Coca-Cola:​ encouraging momentum and innovation around its flagship brand while maintaining its existing brand equity.

It has already rolled out Coke Energy and Coke Energy Cherry in the US, as well as Cherry Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke (and their zero-sugar counterparts).

With the coronavirus pandemic hitting the world this year, nourishing these big-name brands has become even more important as consumers turn back to the big brands​ they know and trust in a time of uncertainty.

And with consumers looking for an energy boost, Coca-Cola Energy and Coca-Cola Coffee are two categories that Coca-Cola is channelling its efforts on, eying up an opportunity to ‘capture additional consumption occasions and needs’.

“The way we are seeing the opportunities for innovation in a product sense is - in a way - at the blurring edge or partly at the blurring edge with some of the categories,” ​​explained Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey last year as Coca-Cola Plus Coffee rolled out across global markets. “So the opportunity to have a Coke and coffee variant of Coca-Cola is really at that juncture of what are the benefits that people see in Coke; versus what are the benefits they look for in coffee.”

Put another way, Coca-Cola says its coffee extension is ‘a way to push Coca-Cola into unchartered territory while staying true to its core values,’ according to the company.

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