NEW YORK – Coca-Cola is introducing the first new flavor in more than a decade for its namesake cola.
Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar will go on sale across the US on Feb. 25, the beverage giant said Friday.
The move follows a revamp last year of Diet Coke with several new flavors, including Ginger Lime and Zesty Blood Orange, which helped spur a rebound in demand for diet cola.
“We realized that there was a lot of opportunity in flavors,” said Kate Carpenter, director of innovation for the Coke trademark.
Sales of Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke – the only other Coke flavors – were growing even though the company had devoted no marketing to them.
Flavored variants grew 2 percent by volume through the third quarter of last year, she said. Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke represented 10 percent of Coke sales but drove 20 percent of its growth, she added.
Soda sales have been sliding for much of the past decade as consumers have turned to bottled water and flavored seltzer. But Coke’s soda business grew in the third quarter of last year, with volume rising 2 percent led by higher demand for Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar.
The company began testing new Coke flavors two years ago after the launch of Coke Zero Sugar, which replaced Coke Zero in the US.
Carpenter’s team looked at flavors common in cuisine around the world, including lemon and ginger, as well as variations that had been released in limited runs in other markets. Last summer, Orange Vanilla Coke had a limited release in Canada.
The creamsicle-esque flavor was the winner in focus groups.
“We wanted something that was familiar and a little bit nostalgic, a flavor that was fun,” Carpenter said.
Coke hasn’t introduced a new flavor since 2007, when it relaunched Vanilla Coke, which had been discontinued after its original debut in 2002.