LONDON — Coca Cola is spending £10 million to relaunch Schweppes in the UK as part of a fightback against posh new entrants to the tonic market such as Fever-Tree and Fentimans.
The drinks giant is relaunching its core Schweppes tonic range with newly designed bottles and plans to spend £10 million on a marketing campaign that will include sponsorship of ITV’s prime time Jonathan Ross Show.
At the same time, Coca Cola is launching a new, premium brand of Schweppes tonics, dubbed Schweppes 1783, designed for mixing with upmarket spirits — and not just gin. One of its 6 new flavours in the range is salty lemon tonic, designed for mixing with tequila.
The relaunch is Coca Cola’s biggest ever investment in the brand and follows the rise of rival tonic brands such as Fever-Tree and Fentimens is recent years. Fever-Tree, which pitches itself as a higher-end tonic for higher-end spirits, was founded in 2005 and today has sales of over £100 million.
While Schweppes remains the leader in the tonic market, with a 27% share, Coca Cola’s UK managing director Jon Woods told Business Insider that the brand has “not captured our full share of the growth that’s been happening in the mixer market. “
“One of the great things about competition is it forces you to look at your own business and decide how you could be better,” Woods told Business Insider. “We’ve taken a while, watched the market to see how it’s developed, talked to consumers to see what they want, and we’ve come up with a really fantastic approach for a relaunch of Schweppes.”
Asked directly if the new products were driven by Fever-Tree, Woods said: “I think it’s a response to a premiumisation of the category and there’s a number of brands in the category which have come along in recent years and started to do that.
“We need to make sure that Schweppes stays relevant and premium. I wouldn’t say it’s a response to any individual competitor or any individual activity.”
As part of the relaunch, Coca Cola is emphasising the history of the Schweppes brand, which it has owned in the UK for around 25 years. The “1783” in the new premium range’s name refers to the year that Schweppes was originally founded by Swiss-German Jacob Schweppe, the first person to invent a process to carbonate water.
Coca Cola’s new CEO James Quincy, who took the role earlier this year, has said he wants Coke to diversify its range and invest in new products and Woods said the new Schweppes premium range was part of this effort.