Coca Cola North America has announced a new Coca Cola with Coffee brand of ready-to-drink products, expected in aisles across the United States in January 2021.

In combination with its recent announcements around streamlining its brand portfolio, the development suggests Coca Cola is taking the opportunity to take stock and focus on innovating for the future. The new drink will fuse the taste of Coca Cola with the rich and aromatic flavour of Brazilian coffee, and represents a continuing trend amongst beverage brands that seek to fuse caffeine with different tastes and flavours.

The company highlights that the product is category-defining, a new category it calls ‘refreshment coffee’. This follows Pepsi’s release of their Pepsi coffee product in late 2019 and more is expected from beverage companies, with sugar conscious consumers turning to seltzer or beverages offering a higher nutritional benefit or energy boost. For companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola, we can expect further twists on their core brands.

Coca Cola’s fusion of cola and coffee comes a year after the release of its Coca Cola Energy product. This was also a part of Coca Cola’s plan to launch into the caffeine segment, although the beverage used Guarana and a sweeter taste profile. The release of both products within a relatively short space of time suggests that the company is open to trying different approaches to tapping the market, but also that the products can target different customer segments and consumption occasions.

Moreover, the announcement for the product’s release in January 2021 shows that the company is fairly optimistic about the limited impact that COVID-19 will have on both sales and supply chains, more so considering that there are current fears regarding a second wave of infections and the impact that would have on businesses. GlobalData notes that whilst US energy drink sales will take a hit in 2020, down to $23.7bn from $27.5bn, it will largely recover by 2022, unlike carbonates, suggesting an overall win for the category. This optimism is further compounded by the fact that the product will see a limited release in the US, a country that is currently bearing the brunt of a rise in COVID-19 infections. However, it may also be hoping that new releases can bolster sales, dampened by reduced demand out of home.

Ultimately, as with Coke Energy, the company will be hoping Coke with Coffee helps to stem falling carbonate sale, with energy drinks showing positive performance in comparison. Although, with a January 2021 release, the company will no doubt be hoping that the COVID-19 pandemic will not worsen throughout this year and the next.

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