ATLANTA — The Coca-Cola Co. plans to discontinue Tab diet soda and Zico coconut water, among other brands in the United States, as part of its ongoing portfolio refresh.
Other retired products include Odwalla, Coca-Cola Life and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, plus regional offerings such as Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Delaware Punch. The company also is eliminating Vegitabeta in Japan and Kuat in Brazil.
“We’re challenging ourselves to think differently about our brands to accelerate our transformation to a total beverage company,” said Cath Coetzer, global head of innovation and marketing operations, The Coca-Cola Co. “This isn’t about paring down to a specific number of product offerings under our brands. The objective is to drive impact and growth. It’s about continuing to follow the consumer and being very intentional in deciding which of our brands are most deserving of our investments and resources, and also taking the tough but important steps to identify those products that are losing relevance and therefore should exit the portfolio.”
Tab debuted in 1963 as the company’s first-ever diet soft drink, formulated with saccharine and marketed primarily to women. The zero-calorie beverage became a cultural icon in the 1980s and paved the way for Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar, according to the company.
“In order to continue to innovate and give consumers the choices they want today, we have to make decisions like this one as part of our portfolio rationalization work,” said Kerri Kopp, group director, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola North America.
“We’re challenging ourselves to think differently about our brands to accelerate our transformation to a total beverage company.”
— Cath Coetzer, The Coca-Cola Co.
Founded in 2004, Zico was one of the three original coconut water brands, along with ONE and Vita Coco. Shortly after PepsiCo, Inc. invested in ONE, Coca-Cola in 2009 joined a group of entrepreneurs, distributors and celebrities in acquiring a 20% minority stake in Zico. In 2012, Coca-Cola bought a majority stake in the brand and began distributing the company’s products along with its signature beverages in the United States and Canada. A year later, Coca-Cola purchased the outstanding ownership stake in Zico.
Ultimately the streamlining actions will free up resources the company may invest in brands with the potential to scale across beverage categories, need states and drinking occasions, according to the company, citing as examples Minute Maid, Simply and Topo Chico. Coca-Cola said plans to reset its beverage lineup were underway prior to the coronavirus crisis, but the pandemic has accelerated the process as the company faces supply chain challenges and changing consumer behaviors.
“We’ve worked closely with our bottling partners and customers to streamline our SKUs — not just products, but also packaging configurations,” said Brad Spickert, senior vice president, innovation and commercialization, Coca-Cola North America. “We’re creating oxygen to grow offerings we believe have the opportunity to be bigger and more scalable. AHA flavored sparkling water is an example of a priority innovation that requires significant resources — from branding and marketing, to retail sales, to commercial execution. Until now, our system has supported all SKUs with similar effort — time, money and energy – but all are not seeing the same return on effort.”