Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Friday, March 06, 2009


PepsiCo is adding three new softdrinks to its portfolio as part of the company's "refresh Everything" strategy. The lineup includes a premium all-natural cola, called Pepsi Natural, to be released this month in 10 select markets, along with limited-time throwback versions in April of Pepsi and Mountain Dew. All three products will be made with all-natural sugar, and aim to take customers in a different taste direction. Pepsi has been prepping this “natural” launch since 2006 as an answer to consumers' concerns about high fructose corn syrup.

“Pepsi Natural and the "Throwback" duo give consumersthe opportunity to refresh how they experience soft drinks,” said Frank Cooper, vp of portfolio brands, Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages, in a statement. “We’re continuing to offer a variety of products across different beverage categories, with a splash of nostalgia and entirely new experiences.”

The "Throwback" idea, I don't know if I am too crazy about it. I mean it worked for Ford when they took the Mustang back a few decades in it's look and it certainly had an appeal to buyers. This is a beverage we're talking about though. People who like and buy the product, "LIKE AND BUY" the product already. Why change the taste for a few weeks. Maybe that's why it's just for a few weeks. I don't know how I feel when PepsiCo says they're offering a line of products "with a splash of nostalgia". To me that doesn't sound refreshing or desireable to stick in my mouth. How about a blast of oldness in your mouth! No thanks! Is this what the new branding and logos were leading up to? If so, then I am way more disappointed than when I thought it was just a total brand/logo overhaul.

Now for this "Natural" thing; PepsiCo seems to be trying to re-invent a "good product" into something, not so much better, but all around different! This seems to be a plan to appeal to a whole new class and life-style of consumers. With everyone scrambling to things that are more healthy and more natural, without all of the man-made additives and preservatives, this seems like PepsiCo's contribution to a new mindset of product needs. Does this seem like a good approach? Is this too risky, will it last? Will health fanatics really pop the top on sugar filled carbonated beverages and feel good about it? I've seen many beverages similar to this around trying to hone in on people who want healthy foods and drinks. They don't usually seem to be a big hit. Will PepsiCo change it all? Will it be the trademark "Natural" soda beverage that everyone will consider, or is it just another crafty mix of words on a product that is still full of sugars, albeit "natural" sugars. And what about the branding? It seems like they have taken the new brand/logos, and rather than change them, they just threw off the bad branding on another line of products. In my opinion I think we're looking at a NATURAL DISASTER!

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Anonymous Eric Corwin said...

The play here is a combination of nostalga and "natural". I wonder if they are trying to do too much. Those that may have drifted away from the brand may look at this with interest and give it a try. Good enough. I don't think the posturing is a disaster...just brand managers and marketers trying to do too much. Thoughts?

2:28 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thanks for putting this up for discussion! I had not heard about it until you mentioned it.

One thing about Pepsi's strategy that puzzles me is timing. Why do they have to implement all of these packaging redesigns and new product introductions all at once? Humans really don't like change... especially that species of human known as customer. So on the one hand, I feel like they are focing too much change on the market in an overcompressed time frame. But on the other hand, and for balance, I certainly give Pepsi some credit for innovating and listening to customers (e.g., the high fructose corn syrup concerns).


3:16 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Great to hear from you! Thanks for joining the conversation. I tend to agree with you that Pepsi is "trying to do too much."


3:19 PM

Blogger spinster girl said...

Four words come to mind: Crystal Pepsi, New Coke. I really like the design and I'm certainly no fan of high fructose corn syrup (I was surprised to see it listed as the first ingredient on my once favorite diet drink, Diet Orange Crush). Given the current economic climate, I just wonder if they're reaching out to the right customers. I assume they're trying to go for those who would reach for a Hansen's or Izzy or any of the other gads of natural sodas already on the market. Or maybe they're trying to undo some of the damage from that ABC special a few weeks ago (Mountain Dew mouth)?

7:43 PM

Blogger Tim said...

I was rather harsh when I said "Natural Disaster", so I'll humbly go the idea that they "just tried to do too much".

7:37 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Shout out to Cleveland! Thanks for your insightful comment. It's always great to have your voice as part of this discussion community.


11:42 PM

Anonymous Charles Sipe said...

I think there is a small segment that would try something new or go for a limited edition run. I think there would be more consumers interested in the appeal of a natural option since the natural/organic trend is still going strong. Someone I follow on Twitter recently said that the mall was empty, but the Whole Foods parking lot in his city was packed.

5:10 AM

Blogger Erin said...

I finally tried Pepsi Throwback the other day... and MAN, I hope they keep it.

Real sugar tastes a LOT better than the high fructose corn syrup!

The downside, I haven't been able to find it at Kroger. Only gas stations so far.

2:35 PM


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