Coca-Cola Whets Thirst for Vitaminwater with Stevia in UK

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The relaunching of Vitaminwater in the U.K. relies on the confluence of two big developments: the growth of the Vitaminwater brand in what has become an important new market, and the rise of stevia-based beverages in Europe.

Glaceau is introducing fresh and more nutritionally informative new packaging for Vitaminwater in the U.K. and a new formula including stevia sweetener that cuts calories by 30 and reduces sugar levels by 30 percent. The company also is altering its nutrient blend in some varieties as well, boosting vitamins and minerals. 

“Being able to keep the products tasting great, but with fewer calories and introducing” stevia and more nutrients “is a fantastic step,” Philippa Classey, a marketing manager for Vitaminwater, said in a Glaceau press release.

Stevia — the super-sweet extract of a bush native to South America — has been slower to penetrate the European beverage market than the U.S. in part because European regulators were slower to approve the low-calorie ingredient. But major beverage makers also including PepsiCo lately have been ramping up their use of the natural sweetener there.[more]

The Coca-Cola unit has targeted the U.K. market since before last summer’s London Olympics and ran a country-specific marketing campaign, “Games, Only Better,” leveraging the games to build awareness there. About 80 percent of category volume is concentrated in four countries: the United States, China, Japan and Germany.

The reformulation campaign is the brand’s next big step to try to boost sales in the U.K., where it was launched in 2008. Vitaminwater would like to move up sales there onto a par with Canada, which now is the brand’s second-biggest market after the U.S. in the wake of an Olympics-marketing campaign around the Vancouver games in 2010.

So guess which market Vitaminwater could target in 2016. Russia — where the next Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi — anyone?

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