Coca-Cola: ‘Coke Zero Sugar will reinvigorate the category but won’t kill Coke Life’

Coca-Cola unveiled its new Coca-Cola Zero Sugar product earlier this week as part of a £10m campaign, but Coca-Cola’s GB marketing director Bobby Brittain insists the launch won’t be at the detriment of its Coke Life variant.

The campaign, which is accompanied by the strapline ‘tastes more like Coke and looks more like Coke’, was unveiled earlier this week. It marks the company’s biggest marketing investment in a new product launch in a decade.

It also marks the next step in the company’s strategy as it aims to move from “offering choice to shaping choice” and help consumers reduce their sugar consumption by actively encouraging more people to choose a no-sugar option.

Coca-Cola originally announced it would be revamping its former ‘Coke Zero’ variant in April this year after discovering that half of its consumers questioned did not know it contained no sugar. However, Brittain does not believe Coke Zero was a failure.

“Let’s be clear, there are two million people that will happily drink and buy Coke Zero currently, so that’s a fantastic thing. Most people in any industry would love to have two million loyal consumers,” he told Marketing Week.

“But by creating a separate brand with a distinct personality, what we weren’t doing well enough was communicating that the product has no sugar. And we do need to shape that [consumer] choice more than we have in the past.”

When questioned about Coke Life, which was launched in 2014 and aims to offer a lower calorie variant for more health conscious consumers, Brittain seemed bullish about its future. He believes Coke Life’s sales won’t be impacted by Coca-Cola Zero Sugar “in any way”, as they are targeted at “completely different groups of consumers”.

“Coke Life has carved itself out a very nice little niche. It was never intended to be more than that niche. Our COO James Quincey said it back in January that the ambition for Coke Life shouldn’t be overstated,” he explained.

“The ambition for Coke Zero Sugar is a different dimension, as that’s where we’re investing and where we see our growth coming from. The adrenaline shot for the whole sector is coming through Coke Zero Sugar. We have never invested as much in the last decade. That’s a very bold statement of intent.”

Coca-Cola has significantly shifted its strategy in the past 12 months in a bid to get more people to try its low sugar options. In January, Coca-Cola rolled out its ‘One Brand’ strategy, which was piloted in the UK last year, on a global scale. The strategy sees its four variants – Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Coca-Cola Life – marketed as part of the Coca-Cola ‘master brand’. The company also launched a new campaign and slogan, ‘Taste the Feeling’.

According to Brittain, the company is “very pleased” with the results so far and these gave it the confidence to implement its ‘Taste the Feeling’ campaign for its Coca-Cola Zero Sugar roll-out.

“The brand affinity scores that we track with Millwood Brown and the tracker we have on the brand campaign, all of those results give us great encouragement and gave us the confidence to use the ‘Taste the Feeling’ framework for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. It’s something that we intend to continue with and use for Diet Coke, as it will look more like rest of the family over time.”