No doubt targeting millennials, soda giant Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, has restaged the Diet Coke brand in North America with a sleek 12-oz. can, an updated color-coded design and four new flavors. And no, the original Diet Coke is not being reformulated. The new flavors are Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Twisted Mango and Zesty Blood Orange, along with the original Diet Coke, will roll out to retail shelves beginning in mid-January.
Admitting it had some "catching up to do," the company said it spoke to more than 10,000 people and spent years exploring flavor combinations, including tropical, citrus and botanical notes. "After 35 years, America’s No. 1-selling zero-calorie beverage brand is entering a new era," Coca-Cola said. The two-year innovation process was driven by consumer research reflecting millennials’ desire for big, bold flavors in food and beverages, such as hoppy craft beers and spicy sauces, the company said.
From these insights, Diet Coke's R&D team developed and tested more than 30 flavor combinations, featuring tropical, citrus and even botanical notes. Ultimately, four flavors received the most positive consumer responses.
“Millennials are now thirstier than ever for adventures and new experiences, and we want to be right by their side,” noted Rafael Acevedo, Coca-Cola North America group director for Diet Coke. “We’re contemporizing the Diet Coke brand and portfolio with sleek packaging and new flavors that are appealing to new audiences. We know Diet Coke has all kinds of fans – from people who have loved its great taste since it launched in 1982 to millennial men and women who are always looking to try new things," he said. "We’re modernizing what has made Diet Coke so special for a new generation. The same unapologetic confidence still comes through and the same great Diet Coke taste people love is here to stay, but we’re making the brand more relateable and more authentic.”'
The Diet Coke relaunch follows last year’s introduction of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which the company described as a “new and improved” Coca-Cola Zero. The company also last year issued a challenge for researchers and scientists to find a “naturally sourced, safe, low- or no-calorie compound” that tastes like sugar when used in food and beverage products.
Acevedo said Diet Coke and the new flavors complement the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. "Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar are two delicious, no-calorie sparkling choices – it’s just a matter of personal preference. For people looking for an option that tastes like a Coca-Cola, Coke Zero Sugar is a great choice. Diet Coke and its expanded flavor portfolio provide a crisper taste and bolder flavors," he explained.
Diet Coke will be sold as on-the-go singles and in eight-packs as well as all existing package sizes, such as standard 12-oz. cans, mini cans, glass bottles and others. All new packaging and flavors hit store shelves in January.