PepsiCo Continues to Parts Ways with Stevia’s Natural Positioning for Big Investment in Mtn Dew

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Indra Nooyi said it long ago: Stevia is suspect in some beverages. And lo and behold, now the Gatorade brand has agreed with the PepsiCo CEO and decided to jettison two varieties of the iconic sports drink that were sweetened with “natural” stevia.

At the same time, Pepsi Beverages is more than happy to fuel the continued growth of a beverage brand that is arguably on the complete opposite end of the healthfulness spectrum of PepsiCo drinks: Mtn Dew, which is receiving significant new marketing investment for its Kickstart and Diet Dew lines.

It turns out that PepsiCo withdrew Gatorade G Naturals and G2 Naturals last November because the drinks didn’t resonate with their core consumer group of athletes. The drinks had been launched around three years ago with great promotion of their “natural flavors and ingredients,” as part of a much broader overhaul of Gatorade’s product line that largely has worked out well.[more]

PepsiCo wouldn’t tell BeverageDaily.com why it axed G Natural and G2 Naturals, whose natural-ingredients proposition presumably didn’t matter much to Gatorade’s primary customer. “Through continued engagement with athletes on their fueling needs, we found that Gatorade Naturals and G2 Naturals did not resonate with this core consumer,” the company told the website. “We decided to discontinue those products.”

Whether it was relevant in this case or not, Nooyi last year voiced her concerns about the mojo that stevia was picking up as a natural alternative to the artificial sweeteners that seem to be turning into an unwelcome feature of diet soft drinks and other beverages. “Stevia, unfortunately, does not work well in colas,” she said then.

Meanwhile, however, Nooyi’s got to be liking the performance of the Mtn Dew brand, which has been Pepsi Beverages’ stellar marque for the last few years. Its most recent unlikely success has been Kickstart, a beverage that contains a hint of citrus juice and is meant for breakfast. Mtn Dew now is introducing “energizing” new flavors of Kickstart that are meant for nighttime consumption, meaning they seem to be aimed at least obliquely at energy-drink positioning. They’ll get huge marketing investment including ads that will debut during the Super Bowl pregame show on Fox on February 2, Advertising Age said.

PepsiCo also is planning to double its media investment on Diet Mtn Dew which also will launch a new campaign during the Super Bowl pregame show, with a new tagline, “It’s the Only Diet with Dew In It.” Overall ad spending on the Mtn Dew megabrand will grow 20 percent in 2014, the magazine said.

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