Pepsi is ditching Sierra Mist for a new Sprite rival

PURCHASE, New York — Pepsi is aiming high in its newest attempt to compete with Sprite.

Starry, a fresh lemon-lime beverage, will be introduced to grocery and convenience stores this week. Sprite, a brand owned by Coca-Cola, the main competitor of PepsiCo, currently dominates the market. Sierra Mist, a brand that has been around for 24 years, has struggled to compete with Sprite.

The company stated that Pepsi’s internal investigation indicated that the demand for lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage has reached unprecedented levels. This led Pepsi to create a fresh lemon-lime soda that provides individuals with an alternative in a market that has been controlled by a single brand for an extended period of time.

Pepsi A spokesperson informed CNN that Starry Mist Sierra has higher citrus flavors compared to the other two options, regular and caffeine-free, and is more aromatic and true to fruit.

“Ambiguous brand” resembling a “replica of Sprite,” Sierra Mist failed to significantly challenge Sprite’s market leadership, yet it was introduced with great excitement in 1999, according to Neil Saunders, the retail managing director at GlobalData, as reported by CNN.

Saunders mentioned that being an exhausted second-rate player doesn’t truly suffice when the market is being inundated with fresh and revolutionary drinks, and when progress in conventional soda is slow. He highlighted that a temporary rebranding to Mist Twist from 2016 to 2018 was “meaningless” as it bewildered customers.

Sprite has experienced a growth of nearly 8% in the soda market, whereas Sierra Mist’s portion of the soda market is just slightly over 0.1% and has been decreasing for a minimum of the previous five years, according to sales data provided to CNN by Beverage Digest.

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Saunders stated that “Starry Hits Different” incorporates online jargon: Pepsi is positioning Starry towards a younger demographic (specifically, Generation Z) who are moving away from consuming sweet beverages and showing strong loyalty towards smaller brands such as Olipop, which are more in tune with current trends. Beginning anew.

He stated, “a considerable number of Pepsi’s additional options, apart from being Instagram-worthy, charming, enjoyable, and vibrant, which embodies the aesthetic favored by Generation Z, are greatly in line with Starry’s design.” “Furthermore, it is expected that they also cater to, don’t they promote, and attempt to tap into the expanding market by engaging in a battle to counteract and address this, and the beverage industry giants are fully conscious of this.”

Pepsi is planning to promote Starry with TV and digital ads, as well as having a presence on social media like TikTok.

As per Billy Roberts, a seasoned food and beverage expert at Mintel, Starry might find this as a chance, despite the challenging endeavor that lies ahead for Pepsi in competing with a competitor that has been in the industry for over six decades.

He expressed a preference for exploring new formulations and flavors, aiming to introduce something fresh and innovative while still building on established successes. This could be an advantageous move for the brand, as it enters a new category where younger consumers have demonstrated an interest. Starry is a new brand in the already-crowded soft drink category, which is currently dominated by Coca-Cola.

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