Coca-Cola is embarking on its biggest ever sampling push for its Zero Sugar drink this summer after seeing half of sales in the UK coming from no-sugar variants. As part of the drive, the drinks company will phase out the failing Coca-Cola Life brand in June.
According to data from Nielsen, sales of Coke’s zero-sugar option in grocery and convenience stores are up 52%. For the first time ever, sales of Zero Sugar and Diet Coke are matching those of Coca-Cola Classic.
Sales of Zero Sugar have now reached £115m since it launched in June 2016, according to Nielsen.
To further grow Zero Sugar, the business will embark on its biggest sampling campaign later this summer, with 11 million samples on offer across the country. The plans will be supported by out of home, TV and in store activity.
As it increases its investment in its no-sugar variants to counter sugar-tax laws, the company will phase out Coca-Cola Life from June this year. It hopes that by focusing on fewer brands it will simplify consumer choice between sugar and sugar-free formats.
Since launching in 2014, Coca-Cola Life has accounted for just under 1% of the drink company’s sales.
"As we look to drive no-sugar sales even more and make it clearer for consumers to differentiate between sugar and no-sugar options now feels the right time to phase out Coca-Cola Life from the UK market and focus on our three leading and iconic cola variants," said Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain.
The stats prove the drink company’s PR machine is whirring into gear as it aims to mitigate the ongoing fall-out around fizzy drinks.
The brand has failed to grow since 2000, and the company has missed its own 3 to 4% annual volume growth target since 2013. In 2016, net revenues declined 6% for the fourth quarter and 5% for the full year.
It's faced relentless pressure from public health groups over its contribution to rising obesity rates in markets like the UK and US. Everyone from Jamie Oliver to politicians have slammed the brand for the perceived damage it, along with its peers, is causing to people’s health.
To counter this, the drinks brand has shifted its marketing over the past few years to focus on low calorie, low sugar versions of its fizzy drinks, as well as smaller pack sizes and water.
In 2016 it introduced a significant shift in its marketing strategy globally by bringing all of its brands under one banner, in order to boost the appeal of its Diet, Zero Sugar and Life variants.
Woods added: “We’re pleased that in just nine months Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has grown significantly and become the fastest growing cola in UK grocery. As a result, more than 50% of Coca-Cola sales in UK grocery are sugar-free."