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US: PepsiCo’s new lemon-lime soda to take on Sprite

Sierra Mist is being sidelined again. Pepsi’s new contender in the lemon-lime soda wars is Starry.

This is just the latest move by the beverage company to compete with Sprite, Coca-Cola’s lemon-lime soft drink which has captured 7% share of the $82-billion US soda market, according to Bloomberg. Sierra Mist held about 0.1%.

Starry’s launch marks the “most aggressive move made by the company’s reinvigorated beverage business in years,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kenneth Shea says. 

Sierra Mist was replaced in the past, too, in 2016 with a drink called Mist Twist, as detailed on the Eat This, Not That food news website. Two years later, that product was discontinued and replaced with … Sierra Mist.

The new caffeine-free lemon-lime flavoured soda has been on shelves since January in regular and Zero Sugar versions.

Starry is a “great-tasting soda bursting with lemon lime flavour that delivers the crisp, refreshing bite consumers have been longing for,” the company said in a press release announcing its debut.

“With one product dominating the category, consumers deserve another option … one that hits different. Starry is bright, optimistic, and rooted in culture and fun,” said Greg Lyons, chief marketing officer at PepsiCo Beverages North America, in a statement.

Since Sierra Mist only accounted for about 0.2% of Pepsi’s total revenue, “it probably makes sense to discontinue the brand and then maybe try something else that’s new to the market, which consumers tend to like,” says Gerald Pascarelli, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “It’s a low risk move.”


Additonal reading on Starry

With the release of Starry, Pepsi’s new lemon-lime soda, cola makers are once again gripped with generational angst.

Ever since Pepsi first pitched itself to your parents and grandparents as a youth-focused brand back in 1963—“Come alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation!” — there has been a steady stream of soda marketing and entire brand launches conceived for the sole purpose of enticing young, cool, (and lucrative) tastebuds.

Now, PepsiCo has launched the latest incarnation of generation carbonation. It’s lemon, it’s lime, it’s Starry!

Starry’s launch materials offered that the demand for lemon-lime flavoured soda has grown significantly since 2019, opening up an opportunity for a crack at a big gulp Goliath. “With one product dominating the category, consumers deserve another option . . . one that hits different,” Greg Lyons, chief marketing officer at PepsiCo Beverages North America, said in a statement. “Starry is bright, optimistic, and rooted in culture and fun.”

You’d be forgiven for wondering what makes a soda optimistic or bright; I don’t know either. But here’s what I do know: PepsiCo is specifically aiming Starry at Gen Z — and now things come into focus. Gen Z likes bright, contrasting colours! Gen Z is reputedly optimistic! Gen Z is redefining fun! Starry is so Gen Z. It’s just like Gen Z! Another five minutes of googling, and I could have made the case that Gen Z is pessimistic, prefers neutral to bright colours, and is despondent.

While establishing a certain brand image is undoubtedly important, reducing it to an age range and a grab bag of supposedly generational traits is perhaps the most dangerous mirage in marketing. On a pitch deck, it appears strategically specific, but in reality segmenting your consumers by age or generation is absurdly broad.

The sugar-water graveyard is littered with brands so thirsty for youthful acceptance that they trend-chased their way into oblivion. Just as it is a rite of passage to feel misunderstood by your elders, so too is targeting every generation’s cohort between 12 and 25 as the most desirable demographic…. Read the full article here