@@img1 PURCHASE, N.Y.1 (Reuters) – Pepsi-Cola on Tuesday unveiled a bright blue cola, Pepsi Blue, as the soft drink giant adds to its carbonated lineup to perk up sluggish cola sales in the key U.S. market.
The berry-flavored cola targeted to teens follows a number of recent carbonated soft drink debuts from Pepsi-Cola. It will also follow the mid-May launch of Vanilla Coke from top competitor Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO – news).
Pepsi-Cola North America, a soft drink arm of PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP – news), said Pepsi Blue is “a fusion of berry and cola” flavors and will hit store shelves by early August.
But some grass-roots promotion of Pepsi Blue will start next week, Dave Burwick, senior vice president of marketing for Pepsi’s carbonated soft drink brands, told reporters gathered at the company’s Purchase, New York headquarters.
“This is a critically important juncture for Pepsi and Coke as they both introduce major cola line extensions,” said John Sicher, editor of industry newsletter Beverage Digest. “The issue is, will these moves return growth to their huge trademark cola businesses?”
The time seems right for such launches, analysts said.
According to a recent study from Morgan Stanley analyst Bill Pecoriello, 72 percent of the U.S. population “said they would be interested in trying Vanilla Coke or a new Pepsi flavored cola.”