Coca-Cola launches flavour innovation

Coca-Cola is to launch a new flavour – its first such innovation in over a decade. Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar will be available in 20oz PET bottles across the US from 25 February.

Since the launch of Vanilla Coke in 2007, the company has failed to exploit the flavoured cola market. “What we realised is that we had a diamond in the rough when we looked at our flavours portfolio,” said Kate Carpenter, brand director, Coca-Cola. “The growth of Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke – and their zero-calorie variants – has been really strong in recent years even with very limited marketing support.”

Despite this growth, only 12 per cent of Coca-Cola drinkers were choosing flavours. “This showed us our fans want choice but are getting it outside the Coke trademark,” Carpenter explained. “We knew we had an opportunity to give fans the variety they crave without sacrificing the Coca-Cola taste they love.”

In less than a year, the Coca-Cola North America innovation team brought Orange Vanilla Coke to life – from concept, to testing, to launch. Three other flavours (raspberry, lemon and ginger) were considered. However, the combination of orange and vanilla emerged as the clear favourite in focus groups.

Encouraging consumer feedback also followed the launch, last summer, of Coke Orange No Sugar in Australia and Coke Orange Vanilla in Canada. “We wanted to bring back positive memories of carefree summer days,” Carpenter added. “That’s why we leaned into the orange-vanilla flavour combination – which is reminiscent of the creamy orange popsicles we grew up loving, but in a classically Coke way.”

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has updated the names of Coca-Cola Cherry Zero (now Coca-Cola Cherry Zero Sugar), Coca-Cola Vanilla Zero (now Coca-Cola Vanilla Zero Sugar) and Caffeine-Free Coke Zero (now Caffeine-Free Coke Zero Sugar) to be consistent with the Coke Zero Sugar branding.

“We realised our flavours were hiding in plain sight,” Carpenter said. “So we want Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke to come along for the ride and be top of mind for variety seekers.”