The Coca-Cola Company announced last week its first flavor extension for the flagship line in 12 years: Orange Vanilla, available in original Coke and Coke Zero Sugar varieties, launching nationwide this month.
The flavor extension is one of several recent innovations for Coke’s core CSD products over the past two years, a streak which started with the rebranding of Coca-Cola Zero as Coke Zero Sugar in 2017. Last year, the company relaunched Diet Coke with new packaging and four new flavors, and most recently in January announced additional Blueberry Acai and Strawberry Guava Diet Coke flavors. Orange Vanilla is the first new trademark Coca-Cola flavor since Vanilla Coke launched in 2007.
In an email to BevNET, Coca-Cola brand director Kate Carpenter said the move reflects a growing demand for choice and variety among consumers, and is a component of the company’s transition into a “Total Beverage Company.”
“We know consumers have options and crave variety in all facets of their lives – from technology to food and beverages,” Carpenter wrote. “We are launching Orange Vanilla Coke and the Zero Sugar counterpart to appeal to people who want choice. Fans can now satisfy their craving for variety, while still enjoying the delicious Coca-Cola taste they know and love.”
According to an announcement on the company’s website, Vanilla Coke and Cherry Coke have seen significant growth in recent years despite little marketing. However, only 12 percent of Coca-Cola consumers are purchasing flavored Coke products and are instead choosing other brands.
“When we looked across our Sparkling portfolio, we strategically decided to bring multiple new products and new flavors to market this year,” Carpenter told BevNET. “People’s taste preferences and lifestyles are changing, so we’re evolving our portfolio to provide authentic beverage experiences to meet those needs.”
Both Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar will launch on February 25 in 12 oz. and 20 oz. PET bottles. The flavors will also be available in a limited run in promotional 12 oz. cans, and will be exclusively available for fountain service through its Coca-Cola Freestyle machines in Wendy’s restaurants through the end of March before expanding in its Freestyle locations nationwide. The launch will also be supported with a full marketing campaign with television, social, digital, mobile, radio, and experiential ads, in addition to a tie-in promotion with the NCAA March Madness men’s college basketball tournament.
While the company has not announced additional flavors, it has tested raspberry, lemon, and ginger flavors with consumers. According to Campbell, the company is continuing to explore new innovations “that appeal to a wide array of tastes and lifestyles.”
The launch comes as Coke explores innovation opportunities in other areas of its beverage portfolio, including a restructuring of its Venturing and Emerging Brands unit (VEB) announced in December which will include a tighter focus on innovation and will position the unit as an “in-house accelerator” that can quickly grow emerging brands.
“Flavor innovations are a growth driver for Coca-Cola Trademark and drive excitement around our brand,” she said. “So while we are currently focused on the launch of Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar, we are open to more new flavors and innovations in the future.”