Is Diet Coke diluting and deluding itself with its latest move?

Given falling sales of soda, both the regular “sugary” kind as well as diet, Coca-Cola is once again trying to entice consumers with a new round of Diet Coke-branded beverages that will be available in the coming weeks. We’ve not tried them, and while we’re somewhat skeptical our preference for first-hand research means giving them a go.

Our concern is the potential risk to the Diet Coke-brand, which to date has focused on cola beverages. And while we understand the argument to be had with brand extension and consumer choice, we’ve also seen too much choice dilute a brand resulting in a company that needs to bring a brand “back to its core.”

At the same time, creating a new brand is no easy task. To us, it says Coca-Cola could have a tough time ahead as it tries to keep consumers coming back for its products as they look for healthier alternatives.


Starting in two weeks, you can buy Diet Coke in Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange and Twisted Mango.

They will come in a skinnier silver can, reminiscent of Red Bull’s. And the company may have had another drink in mind when it mixed up the flavors — LaCroix seltzer, which has attracted exactly the audience Coke is after.

Coke wasn’t shy about which customers it’s targeting.”Millennials are now thirstier than ever for adventures and new experiences, and we want to be right by their side,” said Rafael Acevedo, the group director for Diet Coke in North America. “We’re making the brand more relatable and more authentic.”

The company is not changing the classic Diet Coke formula, which will still be available in the traditional, squatter 12-ounce cans.

Coke has been paying special attention to its low- and zero-calorie drinks.Over the summer, the company replaced Coke Zero with a drink called Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

But in general, consumer appetite for soda, both regular and diet, is shrinking. People are turning away from the artificial sweeteners used to flavor diet sodas — including the new Diet Coke flavors.

In a note published on Tuesday, the research group Cowen reported that diet soda sales fell 2% in the last three months of 2017. In that period, Diet Coke sales fell by 4% and Diet Pepsi (PEP) by 8%.

Source: Diet Coke’s new cans and flavors are Millennial-friendly – Jan. 10, 2018

About the Author

Chris Versace, Chief Investment Officer
I'm the Chief Investment Officer of Tematica Research and editor of Tematica Investing newsletter. All of that capitalizes on my near 20 years in the investment industry, nearly all of it breaking down industries and recommending stocks. In that time, I've been ranked an All Star Analyst by Zacks Investment Research and my efforts in analyzing industries, companies and equities have been recognized by both Institutional Investor and Thomson Reuters’ StarMine Monitor. In my travels, I've covered cyclicals, tech and more, which gives me a different vantage point, one that uses not only an ecosystem or food chain perspective, but one that also examines demographics, economics, psychographics and more when formulating my investment views. The question I most often get is "Are you related to…."

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