Pepsi Throwback Relaunch Gets Thumbs Up

Here today, gone tomorrow… maybe. That’s the marketing message PepsiCo is sending with its latest push for Pepsi Throwback, which, unlike the original version of Pepsi, is made with real sugar.

PepsiCo first introduced Pepsi Throwback in December 2009, supported by an NFL-focused TV campaign from TBWA\Chiat\Day. The product was on shelves through February of this year. Then in July, PepsiCo reintroduced Pepsi Throwback for another limited release through September, this time, with little fanfare or marketing, said Amy Wirtanen, director of Pepsi marketing.

“We didn’t give it a lot of media support,” Wirtanen said. “We let it grow organically, and most of the [marketing support] has been consumer-generated.”

So what’s the outcome? Consumers have responded positively. “There’s been a groundswell,” said Wirtanen.

As of this week, there are three Facebook pages dedicated to Pepsi Throwback, with almost 20,000 fans combined. The product is being mentioned in at least a tweet an hour as well on Twitter. Bloggers, too, were buzzing about the launch and relaunch.

So far, Wirtanen said, sales have been “highly incremental”—not only to PepsiCo’s business but also to the whole carbonated beverage category. “What we found is that it’s bringing new consumers to the category,” she said.

The growth is coming from millennials, as well as Hispanic consumers, per PepsiCo.

While the use of real sugar in Pepsi Throwback—and the grassroots marketing efforts—may have something to do with the sales spike, Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, attributed it to the fact that people are comfortable with the Pepsi brand. 

“We all love new things, but only new things that we already know to some extent,” said Balzer. “So introducing a ‘new’ version of something people already like is a good way to stay contemporary.”

Good news for those who have been stockpiling Pepsi Throwback: PepsiCo plans to re-release the soft drink again in 2011 due to its popularity, Wirtanen said.

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