PepsiCo ‘on back foot’ as bid to catch Coke hots up

PepsiPepsiCo is plotting a fresh assault on the UK cola market after admitting that it has been caught on the “back foot” by the launch of Coke Zero last summer.

Speaking exclusively to Marketing Week, Bruno Gruwez, marketing director Pepsi UK, says: “We believe there is growth in the category. But we have been caught on the back foot and we need to become a little better on innovation.”

He says that innovation in the soft drinks category must go beyond new flavours and should focus on developing and launching completely new products.

It is understood that the launch of a new cola could come as early as this autumn. It is unclear if it will be a global or UK specific launch. PepsiCo’s cola portfolio consists of core brands Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max across the UK.

Gruwez says there is urgent need for innovation across the carbonates sector, and points to lack of product launches in comparison to the non-carbonates segment.

Coca-Cola launched Coke Zero last year in the hope of taking market share from Pepsi’s sugar-free competitor Pepsi Max.

Retail sources suggest Coke Zero has had mixed success, with some saying it has cannibalised sales of Diet Coke.

Gruwez claims Pepsi’s market share across the cola market has grown since the arrival of Coke Zero. He adds: “We believe we have the better proposition.”

Gruwez took over as UK marketing director last summer, replacing Caroline Diamond (MW 11 May, 2006). He is responsible for strategic direction of its brands and works in collaboration with Britvic Soft Drinks, PepsiCo’s UK bottling partner.

He had worked on the Tropicana juice brand since 1994 and held a variety of roles before becoming UK marketing director.

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

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