The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, announced that its newest innovation ― Coca-Cola with Coffee ― has made its buzzed-about U.S. debut. The innovation creates a new “refreshment coffee” category with a pioneering proposition that “sips like a Coke and finishes like a coffee” — giving Coca-Cola fans and java lovers alike a refreshing and reinvigorating reset to their daily routine, the company says.
Infused with Brazilian coffee, Coca-Cola with Coffee and Coca-Cola with Coffee Zero Sugar is available nationwide in three signature flavors, Dark Blend, Vanilla and Caramel, while the zero-sugar counterpart comes in Dark Blend and Vanilla. All the ready-to-drink (RTD) varieties are shelf-stable and contain 69 mg of caffeine in each 12-ounce slim can. The new coffees will be available in the RTD coffee aisle.
“We’re focusing our innovation efforts on doing what Coca-Cola has always stood for and does best ― which is to deliver emotional and functional uplift ― in bigger, bolder, more differentiated ways,” said Brandan Strickland, brand director of Coca-Cola Trademark, in a statement. “Coca-Cola with Coffee is a true hybrid innovation that provides the perfect solution for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up we all want, especially in today’s work-from-home environment. We’re fulfilling this need state and occasion in a uniquely Coca-Cola way.”
Because more than 50 percent of Coca-Cola drinkers and coffee loyalists enjoy both beverages on a regular basis, now consumers won’t have to choose between reaching for a soft drink or a coffee at 3 p.m. at work, at school or on the go, Strickland adds. “Now, you don’t need to leave Coca-Cola to get your coffee fix,” he says.
As the brand team continued to learn from consumers, zero sugar was identified as an innovation opportunity. The team worked with the research and development department to create both varietals of Coca-Cola with Coffee Zero Sugar.
“While other categories including energy drinks have ventured into zero-sugar territory, RTD coffee hasn’t because many offerings are dairy-based,” Strickland explains. “So we see this as a major whitespace opportunity.”
Coca-Cola also teamed up with Walmart and DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, to bring Coca-Cola with Coffee and Coca-Cola with Coffee Zero Sugar to the “buzzworthy” community of Coffee County, Ga. On Jan. 25, select consumers who live in a single-family residence within a one-mile radius of the Walmart Supercenter in Coffee County were able to opt-in to have Coca-Cola with Coffee and Coca-Cola with Coffee Zero Sugar delivered safely to their homes via drone delivery.
On Jan. 25, Consumers were also able to receive a free can of Coca-Cola with Coffee, using the Ibotta app, at Walmart stores across the country. The offer is only valid on Coca-Cola with Coffee for any variety of its 12-ounce cans.
The United States is the 50th market to launch Coca-Cola with Coffee, which was first piloted in Japan in 2018. Each country tailors the Coca-Cola with Coffee recipe and packaging mix to meet local tastes, the company says. In July 2020, Coca-Cola gave 2,000 members of the Coca-Cola Insiders Club, an exclusive opportunity to taste Coca-Cola with Coffee before it hit shelves. The beverage subscription service gives “Insiders” the chance to sign up to receive some of Coke’s newest drinks and surprise swag.
Coca-Cola with Coffee is the latest creative extension of the Coca-Cola Trademark in the United States, following the rollouts of Coke Energy/Coke Energy Cherry, Cherry Vanilla Coke, Orange Vanilla Coke (and their zero-sugar counterparts). The innovation also is the latest output of the company’s “lift and shift” strategy to scale successful beverage innovations from market to market via an experimental, test-and-learn approach.
Research shows that consumers are more open to trying new category-crossing drinks like Coca-Cola with Coffee, which push Coca-Cola into uncharted territory while staying true to its core values. In preliminary consumer testing, more than 80 percent of consumers who tried Coca-Cola with Coffee said they would buy it. Retail customers are equally excited to stock the new offering.
The launch will be supported by a fully integrated marketing campaign, including digital/social, outdoor, radio and TV advertising. A mix of digital and traditional sampling also will drive trial.