Last Updated: 3/26/2012 11:59 AM
Pepsi Next is a mid-calorie cola that promises “real cola taste” and “60% less sugar.” With 60 calories per 8 ounces, Pepsi Next utilizes a blend of high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, ace-k, and sucralose. The execution of the product seems very much like the same thing you’d get by mixing Diet Pepsi with regular Pepsi. That said, the product has a bit of Jekyll-and-Hyde complex, with the aroma smelling like artificial sweetener, but the mouthfeel thicker and syrupy like regular Pepsi. The same can be said about the actual flavor, with the product starting out tasting like regular Pepsi and then finishing with with an artificial sweetener aftertaste. Ultimately, it’s a drink that seems like it runs the risk of alienating both the diet and regular drinker since it doesn’t really excel at being either a diet or regular cola. However, if we were to guess where the sales for Pepsi Next will come from, it will be from the consumer who drinks full calorie cola and hasn’t yet made the switch to diet or eliminated cola from their diet. Either way, it seems like a short lived proposition. On the branding front, the use of “Next” is a conceptual rather than specific way to describe the product. Looking at the massive success of “Zero,” you’d think that Pepsi would come up with something that is more descriptive and plays less on the sense of intrigue. Overall, like many new CSD offerings, this product feels cannibalistic more than innovative, with the formula simply mashing together two things that have been on the market a long time. Pair that with messaging that is confusing and we’re not convinced that this product will have a very successful future.