You’ve got to give the folks behind the 7UP brand some credit: They keep trying. In their latest bid to grow their marginal soft-drink brand, 7UP’s owners are reformulating the lemon-lime-flavored soda and clothing it in new graphics.
Jim Trebilock, CMO for 7UP parent Dr. Pepper Snapple, says the company is using new technology to give The Uncola a “crisper” lemon and lime taste. The newly “restaged” 7UP also will get a fresh look on its packaging before it hits U.S. stores in September.
Marketing 7UP has always been somewhat quixotic. The brand has offered consumers a clear alternative to Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other dark soft drinks -- and, for many years, that was its chief point of differentiation.
But today, 7UP enjoys only a 1% share of the U.S. carbonated-soft-drink market. Even other second-tier players have larger shares, such as PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew, with 6.7%, and Sprite, with 5.5%.
Over the years, 7UP’s various brand stewards have tried many ways to break it out from the ranks of declining soft drinks and ignite growth. Most recently, they have tried to reposition 7UP as a better-for-you brand of an ilk with enhanced bottled waters and other new beverage types that have been stealing share of mouth from soda pop.
In 2003, 7UP flirted with a Mountain Dew-like product with “attitude” that it introduced as “dnL” – or “7UP,” upside-down.
And a year later, when 7UP was owned by Cadbury-Schweppes, the brand introduced 7UP Plus, a low-calorie drink with doses of fruit juice, calcium, Vitamin C, some pink coloring and berry flavor. The idea was to appeal directly to health-conscious women. Now, 7UP Plus is just part of an extensive lineup of 7UP products that also includes “healthfulness” varieties with extra antioxidants.
At least one 7UP devotee isn't convinced a taste tweak to the iconic soda is what's needed. 7UP fan Michelle Beck posted this plea on the brand's Facebook page: "If you revamp the flavor again hopefully it will be back to it's original recipe. Seriously, soda is soda, no matter how fresh your ingredients are it's still not good for you so bring back the old flavor PLEASE and regain your unique taste in this world!"
7UP, however, hopes a new flavor will goose sales. Trebilcock told the Wall Street Journal while 7UP sales grew last year, the brand aims to “accelerate” growth with the reformulation. If they could pull that off while Coke and Pepsi continue to fight long-term declines in consumption, 7UP really would be the Uncola.