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Coke adds first new permanent flavor in several years with Spiced


Dive Brief:

  • The Coca-Cola brand is debuting its first permanent offering in more than three years with the launch of Coca-Cola Spiced. The new soda, available in full sugar and zero sugar varieties, combines the traditional Coke flavor with raspberry and spiced flavors. Coca-Cola Spiced will start appearing on shelves Feb. 19.
  • The launch comes as Coca-Cola aims to respond to growing consumer interest, especially among younger individuals, for spicier foods and beverages. Despite its name, a Coca-Cola executive said the beverage is not spicy but rather bold in flavor.
  • Separately, the beverage giant is launching Coca-Cola Happy Tears Zero Sugar under its Creations platform. Happy Tears contains salt and mineral flavors. The limited-time product will be sold only through TikTok starting Feb. 17 in the U.S. and Great Britain while supplies last.

Dive Insight:

As consumer tastes change, Coca-Cola has been moving aggressively to grow interest in its beverage platform. While the Atlanta-based company has expanded its reach in waters, teas and sports drinks, it hasn’t lost sight of its iconic soda.

Coca-Cola rarely adds permanent offerings under its namesake brand, which also includes cherry and vanilla. But Sue Lynne Cha, Coke’s vice president of marketing for North America, told CNN that consumers are craving bolder and punchier flavors. She cited company research that found increased consumer interest in trying a spicier beverage and that raspberry is a popular choice on its Freestyle drink machines.

As consumer interests change, Coca-Cola needs to not only cater to drinkers who crave the original products but also introduce offerings that respond to consumers who demand new and more complicated flavors.

In the past, a mainline Coke offering like Spiced would take over a year to develop, whereas now the process is done in just a few months, according to Shakir Moin, marketing chief at Coca-Cola North America.

“The mindset, I think, especially with our marketing transformation agenda … is that we’re a 137-year-old startup,” Moin told reporters in New York City on Tuesday. “A fundamental transformation that we’ve taken on is focusing on bolder, faster and fewer initiatives.”

A major part of Coca-Cola’s recent innovation efforts has centered around its Creations platform which debuted in 2022 to highlight the company’s signature beverage while drawing in younger consumers. Creations seeks to not only create unique, limited-time flavors but also position Coca-Cola as a lifestyle brand through merchandise and virtual experiences.

The speed at which Spiced was created and rolled out was inspired by Creations, according to the company.

So far, the eight Creations items introduced include a dream-inspired flavor, another that is space-flavored and a third beverage created with the help of artificial intelligence.

The newest one, Happy Tears Zero Sugar, which debuts on Random Acts of Kindness Day on Feb. 17, is described by Coca-Cola as the first to be packaged in a “hype kit” that is available exclusively on TikTok. The kit comes with tissues to wipe away tears and other merchandise. 

The soda draws on joyful moments like a teenager receiving a college acceptance letter or a friend sending a positive text. The cola carries a “splash of salty minerals” to emulate the taste of tears, according to a press release. 

Oana Vlad, senior director of global strategy at Coca-Cola, said Tuesday that Creations engages young consumers about twice as much as other Coke trademark initiatives and almost all of them — more than 75%— are new to the Coke trademark.

“We are re-introducing the brand, in a way, to the next generation,” Vlad said. 

Happy Tears Zero Sugar and Coca-Cola Spiced are just a few of the sodas that have or will be released in 2024. Coca-Cola is expected to release Sprite Cherry Lime Chill and Keurig Dr Pepper a Dr Pepper Creamy Coconut.

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