COMMENT: Coca-Cola milking demand for healthy drinks
Coca-Cola is targeting a growing market for healthier drinks with its new milk-based beverage Swerve. But while the company's marketing clout should put Swerve on track for success, there have been a number of recent failures, including one of Coca-Cola's own attempts at cracking the market.
Under threat from initiatives aimed at curbing people's sugar intake, Coca-Cola is preparing to launch a new, healthier, milk-based drink. Coca-Cola has always fervently denied any claims that its products carry an unhealthy amount of sugar. Nevertheless, the growing consumer concern is creating a new market for ostensibly healthier drinks. These fall into three categories - water, fruit juice and milk-based.
Swerve, Coca-Cola's new offering, is milk-based. As its milk content is above 50%, Swerve will have the backing of the American Dairy Association - an important factor in establishing the drink's healthier than healthy credentials. Milk-based drinks are particularly well suited for targeting to children and tweenagers, a key market for Coca-Cola, as milk's health benefits are usually seen as being especially good for children. Water and fruit juice drinks have a greater appeal to adults.
However, attracting the attention of parents is not enough to make the drink a success. More and more, children and tweenagers have discretion over parental spending on food and drinks, not to mention their own disposable income. Attracting their interest is trickier, and health concerns can only be a small part of the mix. Dr Pepper/Seven Up's Raging Cow, a new and fairly successful milk drink, has a carefully constructed appeal to tweenagers, complete with website, iconic characters and eye-catching artwork.
The success of Raging Cow has partly prompted Coca-Cola's own launch at this time.
Coca-Cola's budget and marketing expertise should help to make Swerve a success. However, the company has already withdrawn Choglit, the chocolate milk drink it created with Nestle in August last year. The drink did not catch on among its key target market. Swerve has a wider variety of flavours and has the added benefit of entering a more established market. As a result, it should have a better chance of success where its predecessor failed.
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