Coca-Cola may be a behemoth – and is indeed considered a monster by some critics – but behind the faceless facade are individuals. Lots of them.
And a fair few Coke representatives were at The Grocer Gold Awards ceremony last night, an event that topped off what had been a busy day for the business (pleasantly, I’m sure, as they left with the title of Consumer Initiative of the Year for the Share A Coke campaign).
Just hours before, they had been announcing the launch of Coca-Cola Life – a lower-sugar, lower-calorie drink they hope will tempt older consumers and offer an alternative to the artificial sweeteners in products such as Diet Coke and Coke Zero. And, despite working for Britain’s biggest fmcg brand – with the vast resources, experience and confidence that must bring – it was clear from talking to them last night that they were keen to learn what The Grocer and, rather more importantly, the rest of the UK would make of their green-clad NPD.
Well, I can put their minds at rest on one of those points.
Despite many of The Grocer team having had less than a full night’s rest (did I mention it was the Gold Awards last night?), we conducted a blind taste test of new Coke Life against three other products: “full-fat” standard red Coca-Cola; Diet Coke; and Tesco’s recently launched own-label 30% Less Sugar Cola which, like Coke Life, contains natural sweetener stevia.
Among the testers were Editor Adam Leyland, web editor Jon Yeomans, deputy features editor James Halliwell and assorted members of the news team (which, incidentally, runs on Coke – should the office vending machine break down on press day there’ll be no Grocer on your doormat that week.) Seven testers, each scoring the four products out of 10 for taste.
And, to the genuine surprise of all participants, it was Coca-Cola Life that came out on top, with a score of 53 out of a maximum 70.
It was closely followed by red Coke on 50 points, then, some way behind, came Tesco’s stevia cola (35 points) and Diet Coke (just 31).
Among our testers’ comments about Coke Life (given before they learned what they had been drinking) were: “a much cleaner taste”; “thicker and sugary, with a Real Coke taste”; and simply “Delicious”. Many also felt they had been drinking full-fat Coke.
So, as the CCE team treat themselves to an early night tonight (surely), they can sleep assured that, as far as a small pocket of the UK is concerned, they’ve done a good job.
Coca-Cola Life may not be The Real Thing, but it’s certainly a good thing.