By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

February 23, 2022 | 4 min read

Pepsi has unveiled Nitro Pepsi – a new nitrogen-infused product aiming to help the brand remain fresh within an ever-shifting youth culture. This “smoother-tasting” alternative to regular cola should leverage the popularity of nitrogen widgets in beverages, as well as American rapper Lil Nas X.

Pepsi is upping its innovation ante with Nitro Pepsi. In an effort to lure younger consumers to the soft drink category, the product aims to reimagine what the experience of consuming a cola can be like.

Each can of Nitro Pepsi will come equipped with an internal “nitrogen widget,” made popular in canned Guinness beer as well as an influx of nitro coffee brands.

In what the brand is heralding as “its most ambitious feat yet,” the new product will, Pepsi assures us, “have you reconsider what you know about cola.” Pepsi has added to that feeling by including a specific set of recommendations for how its new product should be consumed: we’re advised to serve Nitro Pepsi without ice, for example, and also to drink it without a straw. These guidelines help to frame Nitro Pepsi not only as an innovative new product, but also as a new experience for soda drinkers.

“While soda has been a beverage of choice for so many consumers over the past century, some people still cite heavy carbonation as a barrier to enjoying an ice-cold cola. With this in mind, we wanted to come up with a new way for people to enjoy delicious Pepsi-Cola, but with a new experience around the bubbles,” says Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s vice-president of marketing. “Nitro Pepsi is a first-of-its-kind innovation that creates a smooth, creamy, delicious taste experience for fans everywhere. Much like how nitrogen has transformed the beer and coffee categories, we believe Nitro Pepsi is a huge leap forward for the cola category and will redefine cola for years to come.”

The soft drink industry is constantly on the look-out for new ways to innovate, especially when it comes to new flavors. Take, for example, the space-inspired Coca-Cola Starlight soda, which launched last week.

But rather than introducing a new flavor, Nitro Pepsi focuses on the bubbles. “Since [the advent of diet soda] it’s mostly been about flavor combinations,” says Duane Stanford, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. “What’s different here is that they’ve actually created a new form around cola. And you’re innovating around the actual bubbles themselves, as opposed to just the flavor and the sweetener.”

The new product is being launched alongside a 15-second spot, which features Lil Nas X’s immensely popular 2021 hit Industry Baby as its soundtrack. The track will undoubtedly help to frame the product as fresh and exciting, while also boosting its appeal among younger consumers.

Creativity and a willingness to part ways with convention are two ways in which soft drink brands can capture the attention of consumers – and Stanford sees both of those at play with this new product launch. “They’re having fun with it,” he says. “It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to be consumed at the same level as core Pepsi ... But that’s fine, because if you can get people to stop and think of your brand, and think of your brand as interesting, different, cool and playing with forms that you typically find in beer and coffee, that’s a win potentially.”

Nitro Pepsi will be available in stores across the United States beginning on March 28, according to the brand.

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