Health and wellness trend tees up opportunity for Coca-Cola

by Eric Schroeder
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Coca-Cola Life, a reduced-calorie soft drink, achieved national distribution in the United States on Nov. 4.

 

NEW YORK — The health and wellness trend has set up, almost “teed up,” a tremendous opportunity for the Coca-Cola Co., J. Alexander M. “Sandy” Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, told analysts at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer Conference held Nov. 19 in New York.

Mr. Douglas said the Atlanta-based beverage company has seen strong consumer demand for its smaller packages.

“Purchase intent for mini-cans versus 12-oz cans, among moms, is up 25%,” he said. “It takes away issues that moms have with our brand. Waste, too much, those are problems that people have. And so, this fits trend as well as the math of the business, and so what’s driving the success is the consumer.”

He explained that health and wellness is not a short-term trend, it’s permanent, and the consumer is changing as a result.

“If you dropped a marble in the center of a supermarket and said to the marble — roll towards growth — it’s going to roll to the perimeter, it’s going to roll to fresh food,” Mr. Douglas said. “There’s a globalization of food happening in the United States, and people are balancing calories with their choices of freshness. Diet products are struggling across the store. Frozen foods are struggling. People are going to fresh.

“For us, that actually favors Coca-Cola. It also suggests a new brand called Coke Life, which we’re going to manage in a very segmented basis. This is a Coca-Cola that’s sweetened with cane sugar and stevia, and has a third less calories. You’ll see it in stores now in glass bottles, premium priced as close to the natural section as we can market it, and that’s our move with the Coke trademark. And our belief is that that trend will continue and that we have to be in a competitively-advantaged place, a solution for consumers who want to make positive changes but also want to treat themselves to the best-tasting drinks.”

Asked to project the eventual size of the Coca-Cola Life brand, Mr. Douglas declined to get into specifics. Instead, he said the brand will “get where the consumer wants to get it.”

“We see Coke Life as a platform,” he said. “It’s not an end product. It has a formula today that tastes great, I recommend you all try it. But it’s going to continue to get an improving formula, probably less calories, better taste. We’ll keep working on it until we think it’s the perfect Coca-Cola for people who are looking for more natural ingredients and natural positioning.”

Coca-Cola Life achieved national distribution in the United States on Nov. 4. The beverage will be available in 6-packs of 8-oz glass bottle, 6-packs of 12-oz cans, Fridge Pack 12-packs of cans, individual 20-oz bottles, and 2-liter bottles. Packaging and availability will vary by location, according to the company.
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