PepsiCo seeks to disrupt ‘outdated’ non-alcoholic cocktail mixer category with Neon Zebra: 'Cocktail culture is taking hold at home'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: PepsiCo
Picture credit: PepsiCo

Related tags Pepsico

PepsiCo is making its first foray into the non-alcoholic cocktail mixers category with the launch of Neon Zebra, aimed at Gen Z and young Millennials (21-34-year olds) who like making cocktails at home, but are looking for more “fun and practical" mixers.

The $858m cocktail mixers category grew 28%* in 2020, but is perceived by younger drinkers as “having outdated packaging and artificial ingredients," ​says PepsiCo, noting that mixers often come in large bottles ideal for a party, but not for a couple or a couple of housemates having a cocktail at home during lockdown, for example.

One can of Neon Zebra combined with 3oz of liquor makes two cocktails, says PepsiCo, "ideally reaching those consumers who want quality, great taste and convenience, but without the hassle."

Neon Zebra was in the works before the pandemic began, Linda Lagos, Sr. Director, Innovation and Capabilities, PepsiCo Beverages North America told FoodNavigator-USA, "but we know that with at-home consumption at an all-time high, it’s a strong market to launch this product. Cocktail culture is taking hold at home, and people are looking for innovations that fit their lifestyle."

Lagos added: “PepsiCo has identified the non-alcoholic mixer category as one that is ripe for reinvention..​. While we do recognize that there are many smaller artisanal products coming into the category, the market share in traditional mixers is dominated by a small handful of brands.

"We are hoping to inject excitement, innovation and a certain amount of badge value to the cocktail mixer category."

Another key differentiator between Neon Zebra and smaller more artisanal brands "is the marketing power and distribution network we bring with PepsiCo," ​she added.

One can of Neon Zebra combined with 3oz of liquor makes two cocktails.

  • MARGARITA MIX ​– For pairing with tequila.
  • STRAWBERRY DAIQUIRI MIX​ – For pairing with rum.
  • MOJITO MIX​ – For pairing with rum.  
  • WHISKEY SOUR MIX​ – For pairing with whiskey

Neon Zebra will hit the market next month (SRP $6.99-$7.99 for six 7.5floz cans), said Lagos.

"Our product is being made with real juice, no artificial sweeteners and an appealing flavor variety, which separates Neon Zebra from the competition. We did a significant amount of research to find out what consumers want – we tested over 40,000 attributes – and results showed that consumers wanted it to contain real juice and no artificial sweeteners."

She added: "The bold design was designed to appeal to the 21+ GenZ consumer, as well as the recyclable aluminum cans and paperboard 6-pack packaging. The name Neon Zebra rose to the top because we loved that zebras are naturally very social animals, and the neon addition is meant to represent individualism and the ability to stand out in the crowd. This brand has a vibrant personality that celebrates shortcuts to great end results."

Neon Zebra is one of a series of new beverage launches at PepsiCo, which posted an +8.8% rise in net revenues in Q4 and a +4.8% increase for the full year. Read more about Frutly​, Bubly Bounce​, and Driftwell​.

*IRI MULO +C data, 52 weeks, 2020; includes Total Mixers, Ginger Beer, Club Soda and Tonics

Interested in functional beverage trends? Sign up for FoodNavigator-USA's FREE webinar​ on March 17.

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