The Coca-Cola Company once again led sales in the United States carbonates market during 2012, with a 42% share of total volume. In 2012, volume sale for Coca-Cola brands declined by 3%, to 21.9 billion litres. The bulk of this decline was in the off-trade channel, where the company?s volume fell by over 3%, compared to 2% in the on-trade. However, off-trade RSP value only declined by 1%, indicative of the unit price increases and higher margin smaller serving sizes the company unveiled. These slim cans, 7.5 fl oz (222ml) in size, compared to the 12 fl oz (355ml) can most commonly used, promote a lower calorie count than their larger counterparts, but typically retail for a higher price per unit volume. Coca-Cola was the first of the big three carbonate manufacturers to raise unit prices.
However, the company has been able to maintain its position as the largest carbonate manufacturer due to the performance of its three flagship brands: Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Americans are very brand loyal when it comes to carbonates, and while some consumers moved away from full flavour cola carbonates, Coca-Cola?s success with the Coke Zero formula (which is a zero calorie cola patterned after Coca-Cola Classic, as opposed to Diet Coke, which was formulated after the failed Coke 2), helped keep many users loyal to the umbrella brand.
Concerns over calorie intake would normally be an opportunity for low-calorie colas to grow. However, low-calorie cola carbonates declined by 10% over the review period in terms of total volume, and by 3% in 2012. Low-calorie cola carbonates are failing to attract health conscious consumers because they are wary of the artificial ingredients used to sweeten the drinks. Although low-calorie cola carbonates have only a small or no calories, many consumers worry about artificial sweeteners amidst scientific reports speculating as to the long-term effects of such ingredients.
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