Who isn't interested in a change of pace? Inviting variety-conscious consumers across the United States to refresh their lemon/lime soft drink options, Pepsi-Cola Company today announced the launch of "Sierra Mist," a new, caffeine-free, lemon/lime soda -- with a fresher lemon/lime taste.

Lemon/lime is a $6.5 billion flavor segment, capturing more than 11 percent of total US soft drink sales. Larger than the root beer, orange and ginger ale categories combined, it is second only to cola among the country's most popular soft drinks. On the whole, however, lemon/lime consumers -- particularly young adults -- have not been especially brand loyal, routinely switching from product to product in search of a taste to call their own.

Enter Sierra Mist. In extensive focus groups and home use tests conducted over the past nine months -- as Sierra Mist was being developed -- study participants consistently described its taste as "fresher," "cleaner," "less syrupy sweet" and "less harsh" than existing lemon/lime products.

"Sierra Mist will firmly establish Pepsi as a player in lemon/lime -- one of the most broadly consumed categories of soft drinks, with deep household penetration," says Dawn Hudson, senior vice president of strategy and marketing for Pepsi-Cola Company. "As people seek more and more variety in their beverage selections, Sierra Mist is a cleaner, lighter, more refreshing choice among lemon/limes -- and another great reason to choose a Pepsi product."

And, Hudson adds: "The timing is right. As we head into the winter holidays, perennially the biggest selling season for lemon/lime, our bottlers and retail customers are extremely energized about Sierra Mist."

Starting this weekend, bottles and cans of Sierra Mist -- featuring unmistakably lemon/lime graphics on a green background -- will make their way to supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers, convenience-and-gas stores and vending machines -- virtually anywhere soft drinks are sold.

Sierra Mist's primary package mix includes 20-ounce, 24-ounce and two-liter plastic bottles, as well as 12-ounce aluminum cans. It is also available in cups at fountain outlets.

Sierra Mist is broadly targeted to teens and adults, with an 18 to 29 year-old demographic bull's-eye. Aggressive introductory marketing support includes massive sampling efforts and outdoors-oriented point-of purchase materials asking consumers to "experience the height of refreshment." Dedicated TV and radio advertising will begin airing nationally in November. Pepsi-Cola Company, headquartered in Purchase, NY, is the global beverage division of PepsiCo, Inc. Its brands in the United States include Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi ONE, Mountain Dew, Mug, Slice, Wild Cherry Pepsi, Aquafina, FruitWorks and All Sport Body Quencher. The company also makes and markets ready-to drink iced teas and coffees, respectively, via joint ventures with Lipton and Starbucks.

For a slide or digital image of Sierra Mist, please call Lisa Castaldo at 914-253-2664.