Sainsbury’s to beat Coke to big launch

Another blow for Coca-Cola as Sainsbury’s beats it to market with the launch of mid-cal cola

Sainsbury’s is planning a spoiler on Coca-Cola’s next big launch by being the first player in the mid-calorie cola market. Sainsbury’s move, which comes just two weeks after the drinks giant was forced to ditch its new water brand Dasani following a health scare, will be another blow for Coca-Cola’s business development.

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have announced plans for mid-cal and mid- carbohydrate colas (MW last week) to be launched first in the US. Coca-Cola is staying tight-lipped about its launch plans, although the latest speculation suggests it will be called C2. Pepsi’s product will be called Pepsi Edge and contain 70 calories and 20 grams of sugar

Sainsbury’s has developed its own-brand mid-calorie cola, but has still to research whether the product will cannibalise sales of its own-label Diet Classic Cola and regular Classic Cola. Sainsbury’s was the first of the multiples to launch an own-brand cola with Classic Cola in April 1994.

Insiders say that mid-cal products are necessary to help stem the consumer shift towards healthier drinks such as juices and bottled water. A mid-calorie offering could also appeal to the growing numbers of US and UK consumers taking up the Atkins’ Diet.

Virgin Cola also pipped Coca-Cola to the post in launching a vanilla cola variant into the UK in December 2002 (MW December 12, 2002). Virgin now plans to axe the variant as it prepares a relaunch of its main brand.

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