Can a Mid-Calorie Soda Give Pepsi an Edge Over Coke?

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Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Like Pepsi, but hate the calories? Like Diet Pepsi, but hate the taste? Well, rejoice!

It’s been officially confirmed, Pepsi is now launching Pepsi Next, a mid calorie soft drink. Tuesday, while presenting at the Beverage Digest Wall Street Smarts conference in New York City, PepsiCo CEO Massimo d’Amore confirmed months-old rumors of a pending product launch.

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D’Amore announced that Pepsi Next will contain 60% less sugar, 60% fewer calories, and will be tested in two new markets this coming July.  Pepsi Next represents the latest addition to Pepsi’s catalogue which includes Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi Max.

Mid-calorie soft drinks have experienced considerable inconsistency in the marketplace.  PepsiCo, after all, has attempted several such launches in the past.  Among them, Pepsi XL (“X” for Excellent Taste and “L” for 50% less sugar) in the 1990s, and Pepsi Edge, a 70-calorie soda, in 2004.

Currently, the task of keeping consumers engaged in their franchises is high priority for all cola companies.  Reports show that colas now account for about 55% of carbonated soft drink consumption, down from 65% in 1995.

On this subject, Beverage Digest’s editor and publisher John Sicher told AdAge, “This is an attempt by Pepsi to come up with another tool to keep consumers in their cola franchise.  The theory is that a mid-cal can taste better than a diet to some consumers and appear to consumers who are moving away from the regular brands.”

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