Coca-Cola hit by retailer backlash over Powerade

Coca-Cola is facing a potential backlash from major retailers over the launch of its new sports water drink Powerade Aqua +. Several are refusing to stock what they describe as a variant of a non-performing brand.

One retail source says the product launch “smacks of desperation” from a company whose core products, including Coke and Sprite, are struggling.

The product, a fruit-flavoured, hypotonic sports drink, will be the first consumer brand extension to the Powerade range in the UK.

Powerade Aqua + will be available in lime and grapefruit flavours and will be aimed at women who exercise regularly or have active lifestyles.

The insider says/ “Coke is looking at alternative sectors to expand into because it knows flavoured carbonates are in decline.

“But its alternatives have not been that impressive. Powerade isn’t a particularly strong brand and we won’t be stocking it. Just like when it tried to push Nestea on us, it smacks of desperation and though we might be proved wrong, it doesn’t seem like a product for us.”

Another retailer says/ “We won’t be stocking Aqua + for the moment, based on the information Coke has given us. We might next year, when we review our plans. I don’t think Powerade is doing that well against its Lucozade equivalents.”

Two other retailers say they do not know when the launch is due to happen.

Meanwhile, Coke’s bottler and distributor, Coca- Cola Enterprises (CCE), is having a dismal third quarter. It released poor performance figures last week, which management blamed on lacklustre sales in Europe.

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