Those born before 1975 will likely remember Lilt storming on to the UK scene. It brought sun-starved Brits the promise of palm trees, reggae soundtracks and idyllic beaches. Its key ingredient – pineapple juice – felt exotic to the typical British palate. And for a long while, it was a key fixture in the soft drinks aisle. High-profile ads continued throughout the 1990s, serving to hammer home its “totally tropical taste”.
Then, marketing support started to fade. And its exotic premise started to feel, well, a bit less exotic. While new drinks promised botanicals and ingredients such as lychee and lemongrass, Lilt started to feel more run-of-the-mill. Yes, it still had a core, loyal fanbase, but there was arguably not a huge draw for younger shoppers.
All of which explains CCEP’s latest decision to axe the Lilt brand, instead making it a variant of its far larger Fanta portfolio. Lilt will retain its formula – “the tropical taste in both designs will be the same”, says CCEP – but will be rebranded as Fanta Pineapple & Grapefruit. CCEP says it felt like “the next natural step in the brand’s journey”.
The sales figures highlight what Lilt stands to gain from Fanta’s might. While Lilt sold £15.6m last year, Fanta racked up £282m [NielsenIQ 52 w/e 10 September 2022]. It’s growing fast, too: up a staggering 20.5% in value.
Being part of its far bigger sister brand means ‘the drink formerly known as Lilt’ gets access to a far bigger marketing budget. That budget is being use to stage increasingly ambitious projects. Last year, Fanta ran its second #whatthefanta campaign, inviting shoppers to guess the flavour of its bright blue, sugar-free version. Across the big four, it outsold Fanta Orange by almost 100% in the eight weeks after launch.
That same marketing prowess has also managed to establish Fanta as the unofficial drink of Halloween. Last year, it ran a multimillion-pound marketing campaign around the event, including a big bang TV ad and on-pack promotions across Fanta Orange and sister variants Fanta Lemon, Fanta Fruit Twist Zero, Fanta Grape Zero, and Fanta Raspberry Zero.
The new Fanta Pineapple & Grapefruit variant will benefit from all this existing activity. Plus, its obvious summer cues lend itself to a campaign outside the core October season.
No doubt Lilt’s core fans will mourn the death of the iconic palm tree can. But rather than being the death of the drink, this rebrand could offer it a new lease of life. The question is whether the new generation will buy into its “totally tropical taste”.