Coca-Cola acknowledges ‘small’ Coke Life following as sales hit new low

Coca-Cola Life sales have hit a new low after dropping 57% year on year.

Coke Life

Coca-Cola Life sales dropped by more than 50% in 2016, two years since Coca-Cola’s ‘One Brand’ strategy was launched in the UK, which seeks to encourage more people to try the brand’s different variants.

Figures by Nielsen show UK Coca-Cola Life value sales for the full year ending 19 November 2016 were down 57.4% on the same period last year. In comparison, total UK Coca-Cola sales were down 4.8% on last year at £496.4m. Diet Coke saw sales fall by 3.1%.

In terms of volume, Coke Life sales dropped 54.6% for the same period. Total Coca-Cola sales were down 6% to 437.9 million litres, while Diet Coke’s sales decreased by 3.9% respectively.

Coca-Cola Life was originally launched in 2014 to offer a lower calorie option for more health conscious consumers. It is the brand’s first cola sweetened from a blend of sugar and stevia plant extract and contains 45% less sugar and calories than the original Coca-Cola variant.

Late last year, IRI figures showed that since the introduction of the new product in August 2014, the Life brand had grown into a £28.9m business. Sales peaked in October 2014 after a period of heavy promotion, with value sales hitting £4.1m for the four weeks to 11 October. However, sales more than halved in the first six months of 2016.

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola confirmed to Marketing Week that Coke Life had built up a “small but loyal” following.

“Coca-Cola Life was introduced in Great Britain in 2014 to test a lower sugar option using sweeteners from natural sources and since launch it has built a small and loyal following. In recognition of this we made a decision earlier this year to focus on a targeted range of pack sizes in key outlets according to demand,” she says.

Coke Zero Sugar pushing ahead

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar was the only variant showing signs of growth, which might not come as a surprise after a period of heavy promotion.

Total UK Coca-Cola Zero Sugar value sales for the year ending 19 November 2016 grew 13%, while volume sales increased 11.5% compared to the previous year.

The fizzy drinks brand originally announced it would be relaunching its ‘Coke Zero’ variant as ‘Coca-Cola Zero Sugar’ in April this year after discovering half of its consumers did not know it contained no sugar. Coca-Cola launched a £10m campaign at the beginning of July to actively promote moderation and reduce consumers’ sugar consumption. The fizzy drinks giant wants 50% of its sales by 2020 to come from its non-sugar options.

Earlier this year there were some signs that the brand’s marketing activity was starting to pay off. The campaign for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar achieved the greatest rise in ad awareness in August of any UK brand, according to YouGov BrandIndex data, with the market research company suggesting the summer campaign has “been a success so far”.

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola told Marketing Week that it was “delighted” with the variant’s performance so far and that the launch of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar this year is a key part of its strategy to encourage more people to try a no-sugar Coca-Cola.

She concludes: “We’re delighted with its performance to date and the positive reaction we’ve had from consumers, with volume sales up 32% year-to-date compared to Coca-Cola Zero. Going into 2017 Coca-Cola Zero Sugar will be at the heart of our plans as we look to build on this year’s successful launch and grow the variant even further.”

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