Testing Consumers: Pepsi & Mountain Dew and no HFCS

Articles
February 23, 2009

Testing Consumers: Pepsi & Mountain Dew and no HFCS

What’s old is new again, and there is little doubt that the ‘retro’ flavors of both Pepsi and Mountain Dew that are slated to hit the shelves in early April will be a very interesting test to see if consumers will do what they say they will. It is all about the sugars: these two beverages, with distinct retro labels, will be made with “real sugar” (although its not yet disclosed if it is cane sugar or beet sugar) instead of the controversial High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The photo shows renderings of what may just be the label, but note that fine print says that the final design may differ. The ‘throwback’ strategy leaves Pepsi an easy out. If the throwback formula works to get people to drink these two sodas instead of other beverages, Pepsi can easily make the move to include these in their regular offerings. Sure, the novelty will attract trial, but we would suggest that the strategy also has a huge opportunity to regain some of the lost baby boomer drinkers who have shunned away from HFCS as well as an entire new generation of beverage drinkers who have not gone the soda route. Initial reports say that these two sodas will be sold at the identical price as the conventional HFCS formula and be available only from April 20 till June 13th. Expect to see those die hard anti HFCS soda drinkers use this as an opportunity to load up as insurance just in case the products disappear after June 13th (although our bet is that they will be around for a long time).

What’s old is new again, and there is little doubt that the ‘retro’ flavors of both Pepsi and Mountain Dew that are slated to hit the shelves in early April will be a very interesting test to see if consumers will do what they say they will.

It is all about the sugars: these two beverages, with distinct retro labels, will be made with “real sugar” (although its not yet disclosed if it is cane sugar or beet sugar) instead of the controversial High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The photo shows renderings of what may just be the label, but note that fine print says that the final design may differ.

The ‘throwback’ strategy leaves Pepsi an easy out. If the throwback formula works to get people to drink these two sodas instead of other beverages, Pepsi can easily make the move to include these in their regular offerings. Sure, the novelty will attract trial, but we would suggest that the strategy also has a huge opportunity to regain some of the lost baby boomer drinkers who have shunned away from HFCS as well as an entire new generation of beverage drinkers who have not gone the soda route.

Initial reports say that these two sodas will be sold at the identical price as the conventional HFCS formula and be available only from April 20 till June 13th. Expect to see those die hard anti HFCS soda drinkers use this as an opportunity to load up as insurance just in case the products disappear after June 13th (although our bet is that they will be around for a long time).

While the strategy may seem risky to some, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been producing a limited run of Coke without HFCS and using sugar to make its Kosher for Passover products for decades – and yes, there are the “real Coke” aficionados who use the opportunity to stock up for months to come; just remember to be sure to store the products in a cool dark location, otherwise you may actually have a loss of sweetness over an extended period of time.