There’s a lot of bubbling in the soft drinks industry – a lot of new things are being tried out for market and a wide array of offerings are already available.  Last year, under the direction of CEO James Quincey, Coca-Cola’s international subsidiaries were encouraged to develop “local flavors” as drink options.

In India, where Indians are known for squeezing the mango until it softens, then biting a hole in its skin and drinking the juice, Coca-Cola developers in India came up with a chunky mango juice which has proven popular in local marketplaces. Investors and analysts two years ago were grousing that the company was too focused on sugary soft drinks, as customers switched to healthier products.  Enter Quincey in 2017 as CEO and his relentless push to develop new products – resulting in 500 new products and variants during last year which constitutes a record for the company and an increase of 25% over the previous year.  Meanwhile, Pepsi Company is focusing on their new acquisition of SodaStream as a way of diversifying and expanding their soda-water segment – again, in response to customer preferences.  Sparkling water sales are soaring in the U.S.  One 29-year-old recently proclaimed that she had switched from Dr. Pepper as a pick-me-up in the afternoons to flavored sparkling waters as well as caffeinated versions of these products for the afternoon boost without the sugar.  Other new drink products include kombucha and cold brew coffee.  I was recently waiting for a car to be outfitted with new tires and noticed a Dunkin’ Donut’s cold coffee available in their vending machine.  I tried it and found it excellent – something very nice for a mid-afternoon and something that I would not have tried had I not had a limited choice, which included the cold brew coffee.  Dr. Pepper is now more of a coffee company, recently renamed Keurig Dr. Pepper.  And even Anheuser-Busch is getting into the act, selling ready-to-drink iced tea and organic caffeinated sparkling water.  The lines between the drinks companies are definitely blurring.  Figuring out what people want to drink has been challenging for the traditional companies.  Some, such as Pepsi, are taking their standard beverages and mixing them with popular new ingredients, such as Pepsi’s “Coco Blends,” a drink of fruit juices with coconut water, and “Tropicana Essentials Probiotics,” catering to the health food crowd.  The extraordinary varieties have created some confusion in the marketplace – any given store might have seven different sections devoted to cold drinks along with displays of sparkling waters and other drinks sprinkled throughout the store,  PepsiCo’s incoming CEO Ramon Laguarta believes that “the consumer is moving to this triangle of taste, nutrition and convenience where I think we are in a very sweet spot.”  Also, sounds like a nice spot for the consumer.


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