Variety-seeking Coca-Cola fans will soon have a new fun-yet-familiar flavor to reach for.
Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar – the first Coca-Cola trademark flavor innovations in over a decade – hit stores nationwide on Feb. 25 in a range of packaging options.
Kate Carpenter, brand director, Coca-Cola, said the 2016 launch of the One Brand strategy – which combined all Coca-Cola variants under a common visual identity and creative campaign – showcases the breadth of the brand. Following the successful relaunch of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in 2017, the trademark team began to explore additional growth opportunities.
“What we realized is that we had a diamond in the rough when we looked at our flavors portfolio,” Carpenter said. “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 percent of Coca-Cola drinkers were reaching for flavors. “This showed us our fans want choice but are getting it outside the Coke Trademark,” Carpenter said. “We knew we had an opportunity to give fans the variety they crave without sacrificing the Coca-Cola taste they love.”
The team considered three other flavors – raspberry, lemon and ginger. But the combination of orange and vanilla emerged as the clear favorite in focus groups. Last summer, Coke Orange No Sugar launched in Australia and Coke Orange Vanilla was available in Canada. Consumers in both markets loved the taste.
“We wanted to bring back positive memories of carefree summer days,” Carpenter explained. “That’s why we leaned into the orange-vanilla flavor combination – which is reminiscent of the creamy orange popsicles we grew up loving, but in a classically Coke way.”
In less than a year, the Coca-Cola North America innovation team brought Orange Vanilla Coke to life – from concept, to testing, to launch. Importantly, more than half of those who sampled the new flavor said they would buy it in addition to – not instead of – Coca-Cola or Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.
The launch, which comes on the heels of the introduction of new Diet Coke Blueberry Acai and Strawberry Guava, is the latest example of Coca-Cola listening to what consumers want and offering an array choices that satisfy a variety of changing tastes and lifestyles – and moving quickly and taking smart risks to bring more drinks to market.
A full marketing campaign will support the launch across TV, social, digital, outdoor, mobile, radio and experiential. Basketball fans across the U.S. will see Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar in stores and on the ground around NCAA March Madness.
“Our brief for the campaign was to have fun with flavors,” Carpenter said. “We think this work brings to life the Coca-Cola personality in a playful, unexpected way.”
Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar will be available in 12-oz. cans and 20-oz. PET bottles. The new flavor also will be available exclusively at Wendy’s restaurants in Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain dispensers through the end of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament before rolling out nationally across all Freestyle units.
Promotional 12-oz. sleek cans of Orange Vanilla Coke, Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar, Cherry Coke and Cherry Coke Zero Sugar will be available for a limited time. Coke Orange Vanilla and Cherry Coke also will be offered in half-liter 6-packs.
Fans also will see that we 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. All Coca-Cola flavors now share a similar packaging design to promote the full range of options.
“We realized our flavors 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.”
Vanilla Coke launched in 2007. Cherry Coke has been on the market since 1985.