As consumer demand for soda wanes — reflected in the growth of healthier beverage categories like premium waters, drinking vinegars and kombucha, and the growth of taxes on sugary beverages — soft drink manufacturers are scrambling to find new opportunities for growth.
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This has resulted in a two-pronged strategy for many legacy brands like PepsiCo: Focusing on bringing value-added, healthy beverages into the company portfolio; and positioning traditional sodas as an indulgence, rather than an everyday staple.
PepsiCo has partnered with Hersheypark to create a permanent soda experience called BBlz, according to a company release. Mixologists, referred to as Bubble Makers, combine unique flavors, custom-blended foams and sweet garnishes for guests at the attraction.
Every BBlz beverage combines a PepsiCo soft drink with Hershey's candy like Reese's Pieces and Twizzlers to create novelty concoctions. Park guests can also choose from seven prepared recipes, such as the "All-Day PBJ," a combination of Mist Twist grape soda, sweet cream foam, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and more.
The BBlz attraction at Hersheypark may be an extreme example of how the latter tactic is playing out, but it's a savvy one. By using "mixologists" to create unique custom beverages for park visitors, PepsiCo is tapping into consumer desire for handmade, craft beverages. Adding candy to soda may also maximizes the indulgence factor, capitalizing on the demand of Hersheypark visitors for ultra-sweet food product experiences.
"Elevating the experience that consumers have with our brands is something we consistently strive for, and we're confident that BBlz at Hersheypark will take that consumer experience to a never-been-seen-before level," Scott Finlow, vice president of innovation, Pepsico Foodservice, said in the release.
PepsiCo has also rolled out offerings like Caleb's Kola and Mountain Dew DEWshine, both made with real sugar and sold in glass bottles, to lure shoppers back to the soda aisle. Competitor Coca-Cola has also jumped on the trend, creating a head of "Craft Beverages" for the company's North America Venturing and Emerging Brands unit in 2015.
It will be interesting to see if PepsiCo and other companies continue to push the indulgence factor with their sodas, and if the craft soda trend has staying power. If major companies can successfully position their beverages as premium, dessert-like products, they may be able to regain interest from longtime customers and capture loyalty from new ones.
SOURCE Emma Liem, Food Dive
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