Coca-Cola ignored senior buyers’ concerns over its attempts to flog ‘tap water’ brand Dasani as a premium bottled H20, The Grocer has learned.
And industry experts have now warned that Dasani is in danger of becoming one of the quickest marketing flops in British retailing history.
The no-nonsence verdicts follow a torrid week of criticism for the newcomer.
The Grocer last week revealed how the soft drinks giant had caused outrage by banning retailers from stocking rival water brands in its chillers.
Coca-Cola executives then woke up to a barrage of newspaper criticism for their new “filtered tap water” offering on Tuesday, with the tabloids
comparing it to Del Boy’s fictional Peckham Spring brand as it is processed just miles away from the South London borough, at Sidcup in Kent.
To add insult to injury, it then emerged that the Food Standards Agency had instructed trading standards officials to investigate whether Dasani’s “pure” claim breached labelling guidelines.
A buyer at one major multiple said she had raised her concerns over Dasani’s lack of provenance at initial meetings with Coke representatives but that they “glossed over it, like they were trying to ignore it”.
Another said: “We did raise our concerns and were clearly right to have done so.”
Nick Cloke, director of marketing consultancy Catalyst, said Dasani was “an extraordinarily misconceived piece of product development”.
And Nina Cooper, a brand consultant at Dragon, predicted: “I think it will be hard for even the mighty Coca-Cola to overcome this.”
However, Simon Scammell, category buyer for soft drinks at Somerfield, was more upbeat. He said: “I think things will turn around once you get spend and awareness. But whether it can hold its position as a premium product is another thing.”
Simon Mowbray