Pepsi announced its intent to use the nitro tech in 2019 and will now launch in the US next month, offering a shake-up of the centuries-old cola category.
“While it’s had its share of flavor and packaging innovation, one thing has remained the same since the category’s inception – the bubbles," says PepsiCo.
"Pepsi is taking on its most ambitious feat yet, reimagining the cola experience with a massive innovation - Nitro Pepsi. Nitro Pepsi is the first-ever nitrogen-infused cola that’s actually softer than a soft drink – it’s creamy, smooth and has a mesmerizing cascade of tiny bubbles topped off by a frothy foam head."
The whole drinking experience will be different to a standard cola, continues the soft drinks giant: thanks to the widget tech most commonly associated with beer such as canned Guinness and now also trending in nitro cold brew coffee.
A widget, which is a nitrogen-filled, in-can capsule, replicates the infusion process of nitro on-tap. The widget is fixed in the can, and activated when the can is opened. In the case of Nitro Pepsi, this results in a smoother product.
The Pepsi brand grew double-digit in 2021. Innovations to date have focused around flavor and zero calorie alternatives: stretching less far than cola rival Coca-Cola which has branched out cross-category (with launches such as Coca-Cola Coffee, Coca-Cola Energy and - most recently - a Gen-Z targeted Coca-Cola Creations which similarly says it's ready to shake-up the traditional cola category).
But now Pepsi believes it will be the one to have consumers 'reconsidering what you know about cola'.
"Smaller bubbles, also infused with nitrogen, create an unbelievably smooth, creamy texture made possible by a unique widget placed at the bottom of every can," it says.
"This is the first time this type of widget technology, often seen in beer and coffee products, is being applied to the cola category and creates the frothy, foamy, smooth texture unique to Nitro Pepsi. It does not look and taste like a traditional cola or soda, and in fact, it’s best consumed differently as well.”
Nitro Pepsi should be served cold, ideally without ice. It should be either ‘hard poured’ or fully inverted into a tall galls; and should be drunk without a straw.
Like its traditional Pepsi, Nitro Pepsi is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and contains a similar ingredients list (including caramel color, phosphoric acid and citric acid). However, it contains more calories and caffeine than its counterpart (a 12oz can of traditional Pepsi contains 150 calories and 38mg of caffeine; compared to a 13.65oz can of Pepsi Nitro with 230 calories and 73mg of caffeine).
The beverage launches this week on pre-order via Walmart, and will launch nationally on March 28. It comes in two varieties: Draft Cola and Vanilla Draft Cola, as either single can serves or four-packs.
The roll-out will be accompanied by a fully integrated marketing campaign including a new national television commercial.