Pepsi Changing The Taste of A Best-Selling Soda

PepsiCo is changing the flavor profile of Pepsi Zero Sugar by switching to an unspecified new sweetener.

By Charlene Badasie | Published


PepsiCo is changing the flavor formula of Pepsi Zero Sugar. The updated recipe uses a new sweetener system which gives the drink a more refreshing and bolder taste. While the soft drink giant didn’t reveal exactly what the changes involved, the company said the caffeine content has been reduced. It now matches the amount in regular Pepsi, CNN Business reports.

“The product is truly a breakthrough as it is the best zero sugar cola we’ve ever had,” Pepsi’s Chief Marketing Officer, Todd Kaplan said in a press release. The soda company is so confident, that it’s giving away 10 million free Pepsi Zero Sugars starting on January 14th. The company also launched an intensive marketing strategy, with commercials set to air during the NFL Playoffs and Superbowl.

The campaign ensures that those watching the games, in person and on television, will see more than one commercial for Pepsi Zero Sugar. The move marks the first time in three years that Pepsi will run a commercial during the Super Bowl. The company dropped its sponsorship of the sporting event’s popular halftime show in 2022, CNN Business reported at the time.

Speaking about the new Pepsi Zero Sugar, Kaplan said it tastes more refreshing with a real cola taste. He added that the company leveraged the best beverage technology to give fans the best-tasting cola in the zero-sugar category. The new formula recently started to hit store shelves. But the packaging design remains unchanged.

However, Pepsi has added a “new improved taste” badge to help shoppers identify the updated formula. Soft drink fans on Reddit, who discovered the new Zero Sugar drink weeks ago, say the new recipe is much sweeter than its predecessor. Some folks also noted that the soda no longer has a weird after taste.

Despite its popularity, Pepsi Zero Sugar has struggled to rival Coke Zero Sugar in terms of sales. According to data from Beverage Digest, the version from the latter captured less than 1% of overall soda sales. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has consistently increased its market share to about 4% in the last five years.

“Pepsi can no longer be satisfied having an also-ran to Coke Zero Sugar,” Editor and Publisher of Beverage Digest, Duane Stanford told CNN Business. “Reformulating Pepsi Zero Sugar is a line in the sand that says it’s time to compete for a share in the most important cola segment today.” He added that reformulation is a must to compete effectively.

The update to Pepsi Zero Sugar is the second big change for the soda giant this year. Last week, the company replaced Sierra Mist with a new lemon-lime drink called Starry to compete with Sprite. The caffeine-free soda is available in regular and zero sugar nationwide.

Speaking to PennLive, Pepsi Chief Marketing Officer Greg Lyons said with consumers need a soft drink that hits different. “Starry is bright, optimistic, and rooted in culture and fun,” he told the publication. The new offering also has a higher citrus flavor that stays true to fruit compared to its predecessor.