Coca-Cola tries Orange limited edition despite retailer doubts

Coca-Cola is launching Orange Coke next summer, revisiting its recent policy of introducing limited-edition, fruit-flavoured carbonates.

The new flavour is likely to be backed with a marketing spend of up to £4m, a figure that Coke is expected to confirm in the coming weeks as it finalises its brand plans for 2007. Other limited-edition flavours could follow. Coca-Cola declined to comment on the launch.

Discussions are taking place between Coca-Cola and retailers about how long Orange Coke and other limited-edition flavours should remain on shelves. Retailers have asked Coca-Cola and other major soft drink manufacturers to reduce the amount of time such drinks appear, from the current average of six months to less than three.

Some store bosses are even calling for such editions to be available for one month only.

Coca-Cola has acknowledged that previous limited editions have been available for too long, according to a retail source, and flavours such as Diet Coke with Lemon and Coca-Cola with Lime have initially boosted sales within the carbonate category, but then tailed off quickly. This has left supermarket shelves overloaded with a product that consumers do not want.

But another retailer says: “I would advise Coke not to launch Orange Coke, because it will be a flop. The problem with limited editions is that you are told they are only going to be around for a defined period and they end up staying semi-permanently, as companies find statistics suggesting the product is performing strongly.”

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