Hand Crafted to Go: Cascal Gets Canned

It’s been on the market for three years, but Coca-Cola’s fermented CasCal soda has remained largely under the radar, with a distribution footprint confined almost entirely to Whole Foods and very careful (read: quiet) marketing support from Coke’s Venturing and Emerging Brands unit, which was the force behind the introduction of the bottled, high-end CSD with the wine-country sounding varietals like “ripe rouge.”

Zimmern: Going to Bat for Cascal

But the brand is on the move now, adding three new flavors and moving the line into a set of 12 oz. slim cans in an attempt to increase distribution and availability. New flavors include Fresh Tropical, Bright Citrus, Berry Cassis. They will be joined in cans by current flavors Ripe Rouge and Crisp White. By using cans VEB also gets the ability to sell the product at a better price point.

CasCal has been promoted as being “good with food” as part of its vino-centric brand profile, but getting it into the hands of eaters has been a problem. By adding cans it might have a better fit in the “to-go” arena, the rationale goes.

Additionally, the brand is getting some marketing support from a decidedly bizarre place — Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern, who began blogging about CasCal late last year. Zimmern will help introduce the new cans on Thursday at a pairing event to be held at Wolfgang Puck-owned Cut Beverly Hills.

The   idea, while not taken directly from the alcoholic beverage world, does echo recent developments in the craft beer space, where brewers have found that the portability of cans overcomes any kind of lower quality associations consumers might have about the packaging medium.

Still, it’s been tried in the high-end CSD space before with less-than-happy results. Jones Soda, for example, lost much of its pricing and merchandising edge with a broad push into cans a few years ago and is still trying to recover. But for CasCal to help VEB fulfill its mission — find the next generation of Billion-Dollar Brands — it’s going to have to assume some new packaging formats. Otherwise, it’s a much smaller pie, observers say.