Soon, Pepsi Zero Sugar will have a different flavor. Pepsi said on Friday that the sugar-free soda has a new recipe that uses a “new sweetener system” and gives it a “refreshing and bolder taste profile” than the previous version.
Pepsi (PEP) did not specify what specifically changed in the formula; however, the company informed CNN that the amount of caffeine in the beverage was decreased, to a level that now matches that of regular Pepsi (PEP). However, the company stated that customer testing of the new flavor revealed that it has a “real cola taste” and tastes more refreshing.
In a press release, Pepsi’s chief marketing officer, Todd Kaplan, stated that the company “leveraged the best new beverage technology to upgrade our Pepsi Zero Sugar product to give fans the best tasting cola in the zero-sugar category.”
The new recipe has begun to appear on store shelves, and the design of the packaging has not changed. A “new improved taste” badge was added by Pepsi to assist consumers in identifying the new formula.
Reddit users who discovered the new formula a few weeks ago stated that it no longer has a “weird after taste” and tastes “way sweeter.”
New commercials for Pepsi will air during the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl to help promote the launch. Pepsi hasn’t done a Super Bowl ad in three years, and the company stopped sponsoring the halftime show last year, which was a hugely popular event.
The new formula for Pepsi Zero Sugar comes about a year after a new Coca-Cola Zero Sugar recipe was released. Coke didn’t say what exactly was changed, but it did say that the new version tastes “more refreshing and delicious” and that the packaging was changed.
Pepsi Zero Sugar has had trouble competing with its main rival, Coke Zero Sugar, in terms of sales. CNN received data from Beverage Digest that showed that Pepsi’s version has only taken in less than one percent of all soda sales, while Coke’s has steadily increased its market share to nearly four percent over the past five years.
“Pepsi can no longer be satisfied having an also-ran to Coke Zero Sugar,” Duane Stanford, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, told. “Reformulating Pepsi Zero Sugar is a line in the sand that says it’s time to compete in earnest for share in the most important cola segment today.”
He went on to say that “reformulation is a must to compete effectively,” as customers prefer colas that are sweeter.
Pepsi’s portfolio has undergone two reorganizations this week. In an effort to better compete with Sprite, which is owned by Coke, Pepsi discontinued Sierra Mist and introduced a new lemon-lime soda called Starry.