In the latest sign that sugar is the new tobacco, Coca-Cola is relaunching Coke Zero as Coke Zero Sugar in the US, refining its message about the zero-calorie soda.
While the brand is now Zero Sugar, the words "zero calorie cola" also appear on the bottom of the bottle, reflecting a shift in consumers' focus from cutting calories alone to reducing sugar intake.
The company said the red label will make the drink seem more like regular Coca-Cola. "It's less switching between brands, which will ultimately help us keep and attract more consumers," CEO James Quincey told investors this morning.
The company claims it is using an "even better-tasting recipe" for the relaunched diet soda, and has "optimized the unique blend of flavors that gave Coke Zero its real Coca-Cola taste."
It even called Zero Sugar "our best-tasting zero-sugar Coca-Cola yet” — seemingly an insult to Diet Coke, which has been falling out of favor with consumers for many years now. Yet a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that Diet Coke "was never intended to taste like Coke. It's a different platform," and said the earlier comment referred instead to other zero-sugar Coca-Colas.
Coke Zero Sugar arrives late to the US, where local taxes have recently been placed on soda and sugar-sweetened beverages. It is already available in Great Britain, Mexico, and more than 25 other countries, according to the company, and is doing well in those markets.
"Global volume growth for Coke Zero Sugar has stepped up over the last few years from mid-single digits [percentages] to high-single digits, and now it's running in the teens," said Quincey.