‘Bloke coke’ takes its toll on Pepsi Max

PepsiCo’s sugar-free cola drinks have suffered a downturn in sales in the take-home market since the launch of Coca-Cola’s rival offering, Coke Zero, according to industry data exclusively revealed to Marketing Week.

Volume sales of Pepsi Max and Diet Pepsi dropped to 129 million litres in the seven months since the June 2006 UK launch of Coca-Cola’s sugar-free drink, a fall from 138 million litres over the same period the year before. The AC Nielsen data also reveals PepsiCo’s total cola sales fell to 201 million litres from 212 million litres over the period.

Dubbed ‘bloke coke’, due to its male-oriented target market, Coke Zero’s launch was backed by a £10m campaign.

Sales of Coca-Cola’s portfolio of sugar-free drinks have subsequently jumped from 279 million to 300 million litres, with Coke Zero selling 40 million litres in its first seven months on the market.

Experts have questioned whether Coke Zero can maintain this growth. Katy Child, senior analyst at Mintel, says Coke Zero’s performance can be partly attributed to consumers experimenting with a new product: "More than any other product, Coke Zero will impact on Pepsi Max. The summer will prove a key test."

But Britvic, which markets and distributes Pepsi drinks in the UK, says its sugar-free colas have been performing well.

A spokesperson for Britvic says: "Both Pepsi Max and Diet Pepsi have increased value share of the UK market since Coke Zero’s launch."

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here