Diet Coke gets biggest makeover ever in bid to restore cachet

Cases of Diet Coke sit stacked for delivery in Miami Beach, Florida, on Oct. 24, 2016. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Scott McIntyre.
Cases of Diet Coke sit stacked for delivery in Miami Beach, Florida, on Oct. 24, 2016. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Scott McIntyre.

Coca-Cola Co., facing an industrywide retreat from artificially sweetened sodas, is hoping its biggest Diet Coke makeover ever can win back consumers.

The Atlanta-based beverage giant is relaunching its classic Diet Coke formula -- along with four new flavors -- in taller, thinner cans. The move comes after years of declines for the brand. Though Diet Coke remains the third-largest carbonated soft drink in the U.S., it saw volume drop 4.3 percent last year, according to industry publication Beverage-Digest.

Diet Coke -- launched in 1982 -- had long capitalized on consumers shifting away from sugary drinks. But now health-conscious shoppers are increasingly ditching artificial sweeteners as well, leaving Coke and rival PepsiCo Inc. in a difficult spot. Overall, per-capita soda consumption in the U.S. fell to a 31-year low in 2016, the latest year with data available, according to Beverage Digest.

Coke says the new look could help attract new drinkers beyond the product’s core consumers. The revamped can and additional flavors -- ginger lime, feisty cherry, twisted mango and zesty blood orange -- will hit store shelves in mid-January.

“We’re modernizing what has made Diet Coke so special for a new generation,” Rafael Acevedo, the product’s North American group director, said on Coca-Cola’s website.

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