With soda volume down globally, most brands like Coke are pushing amped-up waters, juices and tea beverages in hopes to keep its increasingly health-conscious consumer in its court. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, however, is swerving heavily back in the direction of that most American of beverages: a can of soda. The company is counting on its new Ten platform—all the taste, just 10 calories—to become the vehicle for a reconnection with soft-drink fans that will stun the industry.
In rolling out 7Up Ten, A&W Ten, Sunkist Ten, Canada Dry Ten and RC Ten, in addition to its existing Dr Pepper Ten, company CEO Larry Young is insisting that Dr Pepper Snapple will not be cowed by increasingly aggressive attacks on the effects of soft-drink consumption on the American diet.
"You have to step up to the plate and take a big swing, so I think it's a necessary action," he said on a conference call recently. "We're not going to sit back and let [attacks] bring our volumes down and affect us. We're behind this."
Meaning, of course, the company is getting behind its rollout of the Ten platform across the variety of its soft-drink platforms, which comprise a stable of iconic brands that Dr Pepper Snapple has assembled over the years. The company plans a $30 million marketing outlay this year to launch 12-ounce-serving versions of the drinks across the U.S. in 2013.
While Dr Pepper rolls out its new beverage line, competitors like Coca-Cola are busy funding controversial research in a continuing effort to combat obesity claims following the brand. The study, which was funded by Coke, said a likely reason for growing waist-lines in women was due to the lack of housework performed as compared to yester-year. Obviously, there was public outcry, calling the study "sexist" and tarnishing Coca-Cola's relationship with drinkers even more.
In one video that Dr Pepper Snapple has released in support of its big new product line, David Thomas, executive vice president of research and development, explains that with Ten, the company "wanted to create options for consumers who wanted the bolder taste experience of regular soda but with fewer calories." Americans tend to be dissatisfied with diet sodas, he said, because they don't like the aftertaste" and feel they're "thin" in texture.
So, in a multi-year process, Thomas's people came up with Ten, based on a proprietary sweetener blend and delivering "the taste, aroma and mouthfeel" that would satisfy traditional-soda consumers. "There's no after taste," he said, "and [Ten provides] a much more full, well-rounded taste experience" than diet sodas.
At least McKayla Maroney says she's impressed by Ten. The U.S. silver-medal-winning Olympic gymnast launched a worldwide viral-meme phenomenon known as "McKayla is Not Impressed" after expressing her dissatisfaction in London at not winning the gold medal, and since then, she said, all sorts of products have been seeking her imprimatur.
"But 7Up Ten stopped me in my tracks," she said in a Dr Pepper Snapple news release. "It's got all of the flavor I want without all the calories of regular soda."
Maroney made an appearance for Ten at Penn Station in New York this week. Dr Pepper Snapple's other marketing efforts include ads that emphasize the male appeal of Ten and a rhapsodic video showing 7Up Ten rolling off the packaging line.
"We'll have a lot of outdoor" advertising with the launch, "a lot of in-home," Young said on the conference call. "We're going to go after it aggressively [and] stay behind it."
And, the company hopes, score a perfect Ten in the process.