If overhauling a core brand’s packaging and its flavour variants was one of Coca-Cola’s New Year’s Resolutions, then the company is already off to an excellent start in 2018.

Not even half a month into the calendar year, it was announced that Diet Coke is to undergo a ‘full brand restage’ across North America, which includes the launch of revised packaging and the arrival of four new flavors. Consumers were assured that the taste of the original Diet Coke would remain unaltered, but this is perhaps the only aspect to remain the same as the brand prepares to usher in a new era.

Whilst not explicitly mentioned in its press release, the packaging facelift and flavour launches were likely carried out as a result of the brand’s recent struggles – much of which were caused by the rise of Coke Zero Sugar. Diet Coke has been somewhat left in the lurch in previous months as health-focused consumers across multiple countries continued to migrate to its recently relaunched sister brand. Sales figures from the past year suggested a similar change for Diet Coke was essential in order for it to survive in the long run.

But beneath all the numbers, the fancy images and the buoyant press releases lies a deeper problem.

The health trend continues to tighten its grip on the soft drinks market. When a consumer looks for what they perceive to be a healthy drink, chances are they have juice or packaged water in mind. Carbonated beverages are often overlooked, and that is what Coca-Cola wants to change.

In its press release, Coca-Cola spoke of “modernising Diet Coke for a new generation of drinkers”. The new flavours were selected following a lengthy period of industry research, through which it learned of the desire for zesty, pioneering variants on the successful but aging Diet Coke formula. Crucially, however, there was a call for fruit-flavours to be placed at the forefront of any brand rejuvenation – and Coca-Cola listened.

Having reformulated Coke Zero into Coke Zero Sugar, the company has taken the steps to align Diet Coke with other fruit-based products that are thriving as a result of wellness concerns, effectively distancing it from other carbonated soft drinks which remain up against the tidal wave of sugar worries.

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The arrival of flavours such as zesty blood orange and twisted mango showcases Coca-Cola’s desire to address continuing concerns over perceived unhealthy ingredients, whilst also potentially tailoring their products towards the adult market. The continuing decline of alcohol consumption amongst younger people has spawned a major opportunity for soft drinks companies, and Coca-Cola appear keen to capitalise on this by producing mature, inviting flavours as suitable replacements for alcohol. And whilst the likes of the cherry variant remain, it’s new ‘Feisty’ name is a far cry from the previous marketing style which appealed to children’s basic taste preferences.

Amongst the many changes, consumers may also be drawn to the noticeably skinnier cans that subtly hint at the brand’s new health-focused ethos. This is no minor makeover; this is a substantial restoration of a brand that, for all its famed history and long-term support, was badly in need of fresh ideas to bring it up-to-date with contemporary consumer trends and needs.

With major adjustments to two of its biggest brands now in place, who knows where the company will go from here? One thing is certain: when it comes to the modernisation of its products, Coca-Cola is not done yet.

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