Beverage Innovation’s Claire Phoenix speaks to PepsiCo’s Ana Maria Irazabal about creating the sophisticated buzz behind Pepsi Natural.
What was the thinking behind the launch of Pepsi Natural?
Ana Maria Irazabal: We’ve launched Natural in 10 markets in the US following the launch of a similar beverage, Pepsi Raw, in the UK and Europe. It was formulated with a focus on the simple side of things. Through market research, we know that the trend to natural and traditional has been booming. Natural is sold in single-serve bottles and four-packs in a corrugated carrier.
Please describe Pepsi Natural.
Irazabal: It’s a 100% natural drink made using kola nut extract and sweetened real sugar. Apple extract helps to provide the beautiful amber hue and it is tunnel-pasteurised to make the most of the excellent flavour and mouthfeel. In comparison with regular Pepsi, the taste is a little more sophisticated and the bubbles slightly more subtle. It also has a golden caramel foam which adds to the perfect-pour drinking experience. It’s an elegant bottle and one that could easily be seen on the table in a nice restaurant. This is the perfect alternative for those who don’t want to drink alcohol.
Please describe the packaging.
Irazabal: The designer Peter Arnell runs a leading design agency and has come up with a particularly beautiful design for this glass bottle. The bottle has a pressure sensitive label for maximum show-through of its golden colour. The bottle has the Pepsi logo embossed on it with the Natural graphics in white.
What are your plans for roll-out?
Irazabal: We’re creating a buzz with a measured national roll-out (not releasing it immediately in all states), so that we create consumer demand. We already have plenty of buzz online, and we want people to be asking where they can get hold of it. This started to happen soon after launch.
What has retailer response been so far?
Irazabal: Instead of selling Pepsi Natural through bars and clubs [as we did with] Raw, we’re selling it through the grocery sector – for example, Safeway and Target – each of which speaks to its discerning customers who have been delighted to find Pepsi Natural in-store. Kroger is also keen to stock it, and it’s worth highlighting that we’re going for the regional stores as a first choice in distribution.
And what’s the consumer response so far?
Irazabal: What we’re finding is that Natural is attracting new cola drinkers – those who have never experienced cola before are drawn to its natural reputation.
What's next for Pepsi Natural?
Irazabal: We’ll be looking at further roll-out across Europe, but this isn’t a drink to be rushed – neither in its roll-out or in its enjoyment by consumers.
Ana Maria Irazabal is marketing director trade markets at Pepsi Cola North America.
Pepsi Raw was the outright winner of the ‘Best new adult drink category’ in the 2008 Beverage Innovation Awards, presented last March in Moscow.
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