Coca-Cola is killing Coke Zero as we know it — and people are freaking out

Coke zero
Coke Zero is about to be replaced by Coke Zero Sugar. vox efx/flickr

Coca-Cola just killed Coke Zero as we know it.

On Wednesday, Coca-Cola announced plans to stop selling Coke Zero in the US in August, replacing it with a beverage with a different recipe, design, and name: Coke Zero Sugar.

“It is a reinvention of Coke Zero,” CEO James Quincey said in a call with investors. 

According to Coca-Cola, Coke Zero Sugar is closer to the taste of the standard Coca-Cola and has been hugely popular in markets where it is currently sold.

With zero sugar and zero calories, the drink appeals to customers who are seeking lower-sugar options. According to Quincey, many people simply don’t understand that Diet Coke and Coke Zero do not contain any sugar. With Coke Zero Sugar, that fact is front and center. 

But people are already freaking out online about the loss of the Coke Zero they know and love. 

 “Coke Zero doesn’t need a new recipe,” one Facebook user commented on Business Insider’s article about the change. “It’s ten times better than Diet Coke and everyone knows this. If anything, replace Diet Coke’s recipe.”

Quincey said on a call with reporters that Coca-Cola wasn’t too concerned about potential backlash or confusion that the change may cause. 

“Obviously any change has some degree of risk,” whether that be a tweak of a recipe or design, he said.

According to Quincey, reaction has been overwhelmingly positive in the areas that have already implemented the new formula and design. 

Coke Zero Sugar
The new Coke Zero Sugar bottles. Coca-Cola

Confusion over the new name and design has been minimal, Quincey said. Coke Zero Sugar bottles and cans have plenty of visual cues to link it to the Coke Zero brand as well as the larger Coca-Cola brand — part of the company’s “One Brand” strategy to more strongly connect its colas under a single umbrella. 

“Consumers get it immediately,” Quincey said. 

Ultimately, Coca-Cola is trusting that the taste of Coke Zero Sugar wins over Coke Zero fanatics as well as potential new customers. 

Coke Zero Sugar is already a major hit outside of the US, with growth figures reaching the teens. In the US, Coke Zero sales grew 3.5% in 2016, compared with Diet Coke’s drop of 1.9% in the same time period.