As part of its three year, Sh5 billion investment in Kenya, Coca- Cola has launched a sugar free cola with low calories in a bid to strengthen its health products at a time when Kenya's middle class is becoming more health conscious and aware of health risks associated with soda.
Dubbed Coca-Cola (Coke) Zero, the new soft drink and Coke's regular products feature the same ingredients and Coca-Cola Senior Brand Manager for Kenya Catherine Mudachi emphasised that Coke Zero is a safe drink sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners to provide consumers with choice and variety to suit different consumer lifestyles.
"For us, it's important to give our consumers a choice and the fact that our consumers lifestyles and occasions are becoming more complex and complicated, it's important for us to ensure that we have a product that plays in that space," she said.
"It was time to create some excitement and actually reignite the brand Coca-Cola because ever since we came to Kenya approximately 65 years ago, this is the first big innovation that we're seeing under brand Coca-Cola," she explained.
Mudachi added that the launch will be supported by a composite marketing campaign including TV, radio, outdoor, digital and sampling with the tagline "It's Possible" and revealed that Coke Zero will be sold in 500 ml and 1 litre plastic bottles for Sh55 and Sh75 each in order to provide convenience to Kenya's growing middle class.
"We're launching Coke Zero in the plastic bottle which eases our distribution and it means that it's very easy to make sure that Coke Zero will end up in anybody's hands across the country," she said.
"We do have our products in glass bottles as you will see in the market place, but we also do plastic so we continue to do it in both packages," she added.
The Nairobi Bottlers Limited (NBL) commissioned a Sh1.3 billion PET (plastic bottles) manufacturing line at its plant in Embakasi in July after PET sales grew by 30 percent in 2011, primarily driven by consumers' need for convenience, with most opting for plastic bottles instead of the conventional glass bottles.
Mudachi confirmed that the bottling companies have now adopted state of the art bottling processes that put bottles through two Electronic Bottle Inspections in the filling cycle to determine if any impurity might have gotten into the product.
She revealed that the tagline "It's Possible" used for Coke Zero advertising and activations originated from the cola's impressive sugar qualities.
Coke Zero's nutritional information reads 0 calories, 0g fat, 70mg sodium, 0g total carbs and 0g protein.
"Our target market for the new product is young adults between the age of 18 to 24 and most of our adverts are led by a male hero," she revealed.
"Coke Zero advertising is male skewed, however we are not alienating women. Through research, women have said that they love the drink and they're consuming it," she said.
One explanation for the skewed advertising of Coke Zero is that men are reluctant to buy Diet Coke because of its association with dieting and women.
Much of the marketing for Coke Zero in the US is directed towards men and activities often associated with masculinity, but Mudachi emphasised that the product was meant for both men and women.
She also added that they will carry out an education campaign to sensitize people on healthy living and disabuse them of the notion that Coke has too much sugar by providing information on the number of calories that a Coke product contains, accompanied by healthy tips on a number of calorie burning activities.
"Coca-Cola Zero has a very different personality from any of our other brands. It's fresh, edgy, bold and youthful offering consumers exciting surprises when it comes to marketing," she said.
"We believe that Coca-Cola Zero's taste and personality will appeal to young people who do not want to compromise on flavour or calories," she added.