DRY Soda Company built its brand by offering low-sugar sparkling beverages with exotic flavors, but thus far the company has shied away from releasing diet products.
That will change in Spring 2018, when the Seattle-based brand launches its first-ever line extension,the stevia-sweetened DRY Zero Sugar. Featuring four new flavors unique to the line, the organic line is set to debut nationwide in April in 6-pack cases of 12 oz. cans with a suggested retail price of $5.99-6.99.
Speaking to BevNET, CEO and founder Sharelle Klaus said the 12-year-old company delayed the development of line extensions in order to focus on cementing the brand’s identity as an unique craft product. Flavor also proved an ongoing challenge in creating a diet option, as Klaus explained she did not want to release a sugar-free line unless it met the company’s quality standards. However, with Zevia as the only other natural, zero-sugar soda on the market, Klaus recognized a white space that needed to be filled.
“The number one situation with diet sodas is the taste sacrifice,” Klaus said. “We wanted to change that, because that is what DRY is known for, we bring a massive focus to flavor.”
The flavors include Cola, Peach Tea, Mountain Berry, and Island Fruit. Explaining the decision to go outside the brand’s established flavors, Klaus said she believes DRY Zero Sugar appeals to a different consumer than the core DRY Sparkling line, with the latter group more accepting of with small amounts of sugar.
Klaus noted the importance of launching the Zero Sugar line in light of trends showing consumers moving away from sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Soda sales, diet in particular, have declined for the 12th straight year; Diet Pepsi sales in 2016 fell by 9.2 percent, while Diet Coke dropped 4.3 percent. However, as DRY has attracted mainstream soda drinkers to its products, Klaus said she hopes the new line will appeal to Diet Coke and Pepsi consumers who are seeking natural alternatives.
The Cola, which is caffeinated, contains natural spices for flavoring. Peach Tea, which is also caffeinated, has a Southern sweet tea flavor profile. Mountain Berry and Island Fruit, which are not caffeinated, combine multiple fruit flavors.
If the line is successful, it may open the door for other line extensions, Klaus added.
“We know that there’s people who don’t drink DRY Sparkling because they don’t want any sugar, and we totally appreciate that,” she said. “But it was also a chance to do really fun, new, bold flavors and combinations. There are certain rules we apply to DRY Sparkling that don’t apply to the Zero Sugar line.”
The announcement of DRY Zero Sugar comes five months after the company announced it had secured national distribution in CVS, expanding its retail footprint to more than 6,000 stores. The brand had previously gone national in chains including Kroger’s and Target.
“We felt it was really important to build those relationships and prove ourselves,” Klaus said. “We knew if we could do that we could then the buyers would be more than happy to work with us to bring in a zero sugar line, and that’s obviously what’s happening for us right now.”