Though the drink, which uses a blend of sugar and stevia, a naturally sourced sweetener, initially had slow sales after the soft launch in July due to limited distribution, the launch of a massive outdoor, print, digital and experiential campaign in September saw sales take off.
Now, the latest sales data from IRI shows that after these initial signs of early success sales of Coca-Cola Life continue to grow as the product has quickly become larger than sister brand Diet Coke Caffeine Free.
The data for the four-week period to 11 Oct shows that value sales for Coke Life have climbed by over £1.6m compared to the previous period to £4.2m. Volume (number of litres sold) has also grown by nearly 1.2 million, hitting 4.2 million and Units (number of packs sold) are up by over 1.5 million, reaching 3.76 million.
Coke Life also continues to perform well against Coca-Cola Zero, climbing to over half of the brand’s sales.
These numbers are particularly telling considering the product’s distribution – while both the Coca-Cola master brand and Diet Coke, which both saw declining sales in the latest period, are at 100% distribution, Coke Life is sold at 83% distribution, according to IRI.
Tim Eales, strategic insight director at IRI, says that the increase in sales from the last period was faster than distribution would suggest, and that once the product fills the gap in distribution sales will naturally increase faster.
He also believes the success of Coke’s health-conscious alternative continues to be largely due to heavy in-store promotion – the drink is being sold at a lower price per litre than the rest of the Coke brands at an average of £1 per litre compared to £1.15 for Coca-Cola Regular and £1.11 for Coke Zero.
“The brand is still under rich launch conditions,” Eales says. “It’s possible that people are attracted to the price rather than the product, but we won’t know that until the price returns to where it will stay long term.”
Eales also believes the TV campaign will be telling of whether the appeal is due to the price or the formula.
“If there’s any issue in the consumer’s mind as to what the product is or how it’s new and different, this will hopefully be explained and could bring in new customers,” he says. “It’s too early to tell where it’s going, but it’s definitely made a good start.”
Coke Life is the company’s big bet as sales drop on Coca-Cola Regular, with IRI data showing that retail sales of the drink fell 2.1% year-on-year to £667.47m in the 52 weeks leading up to 19 July while volume (number of litres) dropped 6.2% to 580.52 million.