Pepsi is discontinuing Sierra Mist to replace it with another lemon-lime soda called Starry.
Pepsi has discontinued its popular Sierra Mist soda in favor of a new drink. The 24-year-old beverage will be replaced with a new lemon-lime offering called Starry. The move is the company’s latest effort to compete with Sprite, which is owned by Coca-Cola. The new soda, which is caffeine-free, will be available regular and zero sugar nationwide this week.
With the slogan “Starry hits different,” the new soda delivers the crisp, refreshing taste consumers have been longing for in the lemon-lime flavor category. Speaking to PennLive, Pepsi Chief Marketing Officer Greg Lyons, said with one product dominating the market, consumers deserved an option that hits differently. “Starry is bright, optimistic, and rooted in culture and fun,” he said.
The new Pepsi soda is easy-to-drink and optimally sweet. The drink also delivers an exceptional taste and flavor experience. That’s because Starry has a higher citrus flavor that stays true to fruit compared to Sierra Mist. “We were able to create a game-changing recipe with the perfect balance of lemon-lime and sweetness”, Vice President R&D at PepsiCo Beverages, Danielle Barbaro told the publication.
Launched in 1999, Pepsi created Sierra Mist to compete with Sprite from Coca-Cola and 7Up from Keurig Dr. Pepper. But it never made much of a dent in the category. In an interview with CNN Business, Managing Director of Retail for Global Data, Neil Saunders described the soda as a “confused brand that looks like an imitation of Sprite.
He added that being a second-tier player doesn’t cut it when growth in traditional soda is slow, and shelves are filled with new offerings. Saunders also pointed out that Pepsi briefly tried to rebrand Sierra Mist to Mist Twist from 2016 to 2018, which was pointless. All it did was confuse soda drinkers. While fans may be disappointed that their favorite soda is being replaced, sales have been poor for a while.
According to Beverage Digest, Sierra Mist’s share of the soda market struggled to exceed even a tenth of 1 percent. Sales figures have also been steadily declining for the past five years. Meanwhile, Sprite has grown its share of the market by 8 percent over the same time period. As a result, Pepsi decided that a fresh start with Starry might be a good idea.
Starry will be marketed toward younger drinkers, which is evident in its Gen-Z-relatable slogan. Pepsi is also aware that the highly coveted demographic is moving away from sugary drinks and are loyal to smaller brands like Olipop. “The beverage giants are aware of this and are trying to fight back,” Saunders explained via CNN Business.
Additionally, the Starry design is more aligned with the Gen-Z aesthetic, which is bright, fun, and whimsical. This is very different from existing Pepsi products. The company is also planning to promote Starry with digital and television commercials.
The new Pepsi drink will also have a presence on social media sites like TikTok. “It’s a way of growing market share and tapping into a demographic they don’t serve as well as they should,” Saunders added.