Coca-Cola Plus rolled out in Japan in February. The company reportedly spent more than a decade researching and developing the drink, which is sugar-free, calorie-free, and contains 5 grams of dietary fibre in each bottle.
“We’re looking to add functional beverages,” CEO John Quincy said on a call with media on Tuesday. The company is rolling out Coca-Cola Plus and Canada Dry Plus as part of a “fast-growing segment where ingredients are added to beverages to address specific dietary needs.”
The company didn’t reveal plans to sell Coca-Cola Plus in the US anytime soon.
The beverage giant is desperately looking to grow sparkling drink sales as soda consumption slumps, and executives are hoping that healthier reformulated versions of Coca-Cola could do the trick.
“Consumers, even the same person… want less sugar at one point, more caffeine, less caffeine [at other times,]” Quincy said. Coca-Cola, he said, “can actually have multiple objectives in the same reformulation. You can… improve the taste, and reduce the added sugar, and add a new fruit juice or some other ingredients.”
Most of Coca-Cola’s reformulations have created successful new beverage brands simply by cutting sugar or calories from pre-existing drinks. For example, the company reported that the revamped Coca-Cola Zero Sugar experienced double-digit growth in the last quarter, after growing 9% by volume in 2016.
Revamping well-known brands can be a tricky business, though. The 1985 reformulation of Coca-Cola that resulted in “New Coke” was one of the most catastrophic decisions in the company’s history.
Now, Coca-Cola’s reformulations are used as extra variations on the core brand, instead of replacements for a classic Coke. Coca-Cola Plus will never replace Coca-Cola, but instead serve as yet another option, alongside brands such as Diet Coke, Coke Zero Sugar, and Coke Life.
Crafting a healthier version of Coke could be key to saving Coca-Cola’s soda business. While Coca-Cola grew its sparkling soft drink revenue last quarter, by volume, global soft drink sales fell by 1%.
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