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The Utter Failure of the Crystal Pepsi

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series The Biggest Product Flops in History

Crystal Pepsi. The drink that made you feel like you could fly but tasted like sadness. Crystal Pepsi was a beautifully clear alternative to colas, making it the choice for those who yearned for the clarity of the 90s. If we’re honest, Crystal Pepsi was a disaster for the brand. It was certainly exciting, and like most failed products, it led to some pretty funny stories.

Crystal Pepsi was ahead of its time and too transparent for its own good- its original shelf life only lasted for a few years in the early ’90s. Right from the way the sodas were advertised, set the clear soda up for failure.

Going back many years, sodas were medicine, believe it or not, Coca-Cola was made with a pinch of cocaine thrown in, and Pepsi was advertised as aiding digestion. Funnily enough, both sodas were virtually blackish-brown in colour. Now, most of us associate the colour brown with the cola flavour. For many years both Coca-Cola and Pepsi taught their consumers to associate the colour brown with their soda drinks. Not long after, the world started to associate brown with more sugary sweetness and clear, lighter, citrus flavoured drinks. It was that way for a while before Crystal Pepsi showed up, and hence the product seemed to go against one of the basic concepts: cola was brown.

Even today, we haven’t forgotten Crystal Pepsi. The now-retired creator David Novak made an astonishing admission. David admitted that if he has just listened to his staff, Crystal Pepsi may still be on the shop shelves.

It was most definitely clear when Pepsi made the product, but it certainly didn’t taste like the original Pepsi. One of the biggest reasons for the soda’s failure was the taste.

While Pepsi had trained its consumers to associate brown with cola, it’s not entirely out of the world to think that the right kind of marketing could have changed consumers’ minds to think clear Pepsi is pretty awesome. Within the marketing, no one cared to explain to us consumers why we needed clear Pepsi. That is one area Pepsi tripped up. It was just marketed as something that had been thought up and now existed. No reason was given as to why we needed to be excited about it. No real reason was ever given to consumers why it was a product they needed in their lives. So what was the point?

One of the stranger facts about this Crystal Pepsi is the fact that it gave consumers anxiety! People developed physical symptoms of anxiety when given this product. They didn’t know how to react! A study showed that the product was too far from the ordinary and too unexpected.

The combination of precise and Pepsi wasn’t cutting it. Nothing is better for the human body than water. The water is clear. So, when crystal Pepsi emerged, consumers weren’t sure if it was healthy.

As Crystal Pepsi hit the shelves, the world was starting to move away from drinking sugary, heavier soft drinks. Pepsi aimed to fit in with this and give consumers a drink that would be seen as a healthier option. The label on the bottle said differently. Even though the drink was caffeine-free, it was filled with 130 calories and packed with high fructose corn syrup. We knew this wasn’t the stuff of the healthy drink. So, was the “healthier option of Pepsi” just a fad?

Coca-Cola hit hard. Pepsi came out with Crystal Pepsi and sunk vast amounts of cash rolling out this new product. Coca-Cola saw the opportunity and hit Pepsi where is hear by releasing their clear cola and then stamping on the image of both products. “A way to ambush Crystal Pepsi is to do a kamikaze on them — commit suicide and kill them in the process”_Sergio Zyman.

When Crystal Pepsi first appeared on shelves alongside regular Pepsi, it sold pretty well, taking 0.5% of the entire market with its peak of popularity.

In 2016, Crystal Pepsi quickly returned to stores due to online pleading from fans needing a Crystal Pepsi fix. It sold out quickly, and that was supposed to be the end of it.

Funnily enough, in 2017, Crystal Pepsi again reared its head. It was the second and final time Crystal Pepsi would be making a comeback. Why? you ask. Because a competitive eater on YouTube posted a video of him drinking an old bottle of Crystal Pepsi and immediately throwing up! What a way to make a comeback.

The round two success of Crystal Pepsi was partly because consumers had built up some understanding of the product. It was a part of the ’90s, a part of their past, and they marketed it that way the second time around. Consumers took to Twitter to talk about how they were re-experiencing part of their youth, even going as far as calling Crystal Pepsi “liquid history.” It’s more than a little weird, considering how the product initially flopped because so many people didn’t know what to make of it. Add a few years into the equation, let the uncertainty become nostalgic, and have a winning formula.

Series Navigation<< Coca-Cola’s Failure That Taught The WorldRJ Reynolds: We Spent $350M And Ended Up With A Turd With A Tip. >>

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