PepsiCo reveals plans for SoBe, Gatorade and Lipton

Amid a rocky beverage market, PepsiCo executives revealed plans yesterday to restage a significant portion of the company’s beverage portfolio by focusing on packaging, tea and the all-natural sweetener, stevia.

Massimo D’Amore, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages, unveiled a number of new products, packages and ideas – including planned new variants of SoBe Life Water.

D’Amore told a Morgan Stanley conference that Pepsi has three zero-calorie variants on SoBe Life Water ready to launch “the moment the FDA approves it.” Those products united three of the currents highlighted in D’Amore’s presentation.
First, D’Amore said consumers are increasingly interested both in products that contain natural ingredients and low- and no- calorie products – a theme that ran into PepsiCo’s juice offerings. D’Amore described plans to release a low-calorie orange juice sweetened with stevia under the brand name Trop 50. Other companies have also been exploring the sweetener including Coca-Cola.

Second, PepsiCo plans to improve its position through repackaging many of its brands. Both the stevia-sweetened and regular-calorie Life Water products will appear in new, proprietary bottles next year that feature a three-dimensional lizard-tail swirl. In the same presentation, D’Amore showed new packaging plans for Gatorade that will peg the entire line to the letter “G,” new bottles for Aquafina that use 25 percent less plastic, and new packaging for Propel that uses 30 percent less plastic and, D’Amore said, more clearly demonstrates the purpose of the brand. All of these announcements closely follow the debut of PepsiCo’s new “smile” logo, showing that PepsiCo believes it can buttress faltering volumes by sprucing up its image.

SoBe also came into play in D’Amore’s three-tiered framing of the hydration category, one that places Gatorade, plain bottled waters and fortified waters as different points on the same spectrum. D’Amore cut the category down to simple hydration, (covered by Aquafina and Aquafina Alive products) body wellness (covered by Propel and SoBe Life Water) and performance hydration (covered by Gatorade and G2.)

D’Amore also unveiled new products that leverage PepsiCo’s relationship with Lipton and Unilever. He said the company plans to roll out a sparkling version of Lipton’s green teas, with bubbles meant to mimic those of champagne. PepsiCo also plans to roll out a functional tea variant called Lipton Alpha with added theanine to improve focus. D’Amore said Alpha will come in both diet and original varieties, and Pepsi will add multi-serve jugs “across all of our tea segments of Lipton.” Tea also crept into PepsiCo’s energy drink plans, with black and green tea flavors planned for Amp, as well as a lemonade “Lightning” SKU. D’Amore said these drinks would capture customers who “frankly. don’t like a traditional energy drink.”