Sprite's new flavor-combo uses a touch of ginger, but don't get your facts twisted: This is no ginger ale.
"We want our Sprite fans to have what they know and love," Sprite Group Brand Director Aaliyah Shafiq told Cheddar. "That means really sticking with Sprite but then adding the hot flavor trends."
The Coca-Cola brand decided to give ginger a try after noticing a lot of overlap between lemon-lime and ginger flavorings in the soft-drink market. A taste for flavor combinations in soft drinks and seltzers has also taught consumers to look for something extra in their beverages. "What we're seeing is a lot of category blurring," Shafiq said. "People don't just want one thing. They want a combination of things."
Over the years, Sprite has experimented with dozens of different flavor-combos, including these memorable varieties: Sprite Dry Lemon, Sprite Recharge, Sprite Blast, Sprite Vanilla, Sprite Strawberry, Orange, Peach, Grape, Cranberry, and Sprite on Fire (the last ginger-flavor combo).
Distributed in China and Hong Kong back in 2003, Sprite on Fire was marketed for its fiery ginger sensation rather than its refreshing hints. Sprite Ginger and Sprite Ginger Zero Sugar are decidedly more subtle, mixing a touch of ginger flavoring — not actual ginger, like some ginger ale brands — with the famous lemon-lime base.
The goal is for the new flavor to drive sales without eating into Sprite's classic varieties.
"What we expect is that our innovation will have a very strong start, but we don't want it to cannibalize our base business," Shafiq said. "After time, it might taper off a little bit, but if it's a really great innovation it will be sustainable for years to come."
A number of products with ginger additives have gone after the health food market. Sprite's goals are more straightforward.
"What we're trying to say is that it's a refreshing beverage, making no kind of health claims," Shafiq said.
But why reinvent the wheel — or for that matter one of the most famous soft drinks?
Sprite has grown for the last six years straight. Retail sales grew 6.8 percent in 2019, according to Nielsen AMC. The last big flavor-combo, Sprite Lymonade, helped drive the increase.
"What we have is choice," Shafiq said. "We feel like this is a great way for people to make the choices they want, whether it's calorie count or sugar content."