NACS: Naked Shows Innovation, Pepsi a Willingness to Follow

So if you’ve been waiting for some innovation to come out of PepsiCo’s Naked Emerging Brands Group, it was quietly on display at the NACS Show — albeit briefly.

A cooler showing Naked’s products geared for convenience could be spotted on Sunday, the show’s opening day, demonstrating a pair of new products from the group, which currently manages Naked juices and smoothies, Izze sparkling juices and O.N.E. Coconut Water in its cold-channel portfolio. No sign of the cooler when we went back on Monday — although we admit we make mistakes sometimes — but we nevertheless got the idea — and the sell sheets.

O.N.E. showed a flavor innovation for the first time in quite a while — it’s been since at least 2012 and likely before that — teasing a Vanilla Chai flavor in a 16.9 oz Tetra Pak. It’s due out in late December, according to Pepsi team representatives at NACS. The not-from-concentrate product is non-GMO, and has 50 calories per serving.

The sell sheet on the O.N.E. product introduced a little bit of category insight, indicating the  17.5 – 16.9 oz. size for the product is the highest-velocity package format for coconut water, at about $45 million out of approximately $80 million in the past 12 weeks. Left unsaid — the fact that much of that velocity comes from Vita Coco single-serves as well as canned products as much as they do from O.N.E., as that volume covers those two formats primarily. Zico uses a 14 oz. plastic bottle and 11 oz. Tetra, among others.

On the Naked side, the group nodded to the ongoing consumer obsession with protein by indicating the January launch of a Protein & Greens smoothie, with 30 grams of whey and soy protein and kale, wheatgrass, spinach and parsley in the 400 calorie bottle. The 15.2 oz. bottle didn’t show any “all natural” labels.

Also coming from Naked will be a pair of chia smoothies, Chia Sweet Peach and Chia Cherry Lime — both pay homage to the chia seed, which the team termed the “hottest new health and wellness ingredient” with 10 percent of the premium beverage volume in the natural channel.

While the company showed a willingness to hop into the chia pool and swim alongside companies like GT and Mamma Chia, PepsiCo also showed it’s not above putting a motorboat in the water to try to fast-follow other, larger trends. For example, the Lipton Brisk line featured a trio of ½ and ½ products in big can formats: Lemonade, Tropical Lemonade, and Cherry Limeade, all apparently aimed at pulling a pound of flesh from AriZona’s Arnold Palmer hit. Meanwhile, Aquafina Flavorsplash showed that the company isn’t above chasing down the share that Sparkling Ice has gained in the past three to four years, with a trio called “Peelin’ Good,” “Berry Loco,” and “Color Me Kiwi.”

Suggested pricing? You guessed it: $1.49 — or two-for-$2.

On the sports drink front, where Pepsi’s Gatorade brand is the undisputed leader, there’s a major revamp of packaging formats in place designed to appeal to the 13-35 year-old kids, athletes, and physical workers who head to convenience for their electrolyte fix. The brand is rolling out its first major packaging change to its big bottle since it moved from glass into plastic. The new “grippable” 28 oz. size is curved inward, and the wrap is much tighter.

“There’s no air behind it,” said Bob Maguire, G’s senior manager of sales planning.  “When you put it in a cooler, the water doesn’t get behind it, the label pops.”

Labels for Gatorade were popping behind an “iconic moments” series that energized sales Maguire told BevNET, calling it a big win for the brand. The new bottles are rolling out in the entire southern half of the U.S. after the first of the year, he said.