PepsiCo moves deeper into nonalcoholic cocktail mixers with Unmuddled

Dive Brief:

  • PepsiCo will introduce a new line of premium, nonalcoholic cocktail mixers called Unmuddled, the snack and beverage giant said in an email. The product is expected to launch in early September.

  • The Unmuddled cocktail mixers are designed for consumers seeking experimentation, flavor variety and a bar quality experience at home, according to the company. They will be available in three flavors: Lemon Mint, Fiery Pineapple and Spiced Mandarin. They are expected to be sold in single-flavor 4-packs at Fresh Thyme and on Amazon.com for a suggested retail price of $6.19.

  • The new product launch will come several months after PepsiCo introduced a new brand of nonalcoholic cocktail mixers called Neon Zebra. They are designed to appeal to younger consumers spending more time at home who want to avoid complicated cocktail recipes or large-format mixers.

Dive Insight:

PepsiCo hasn’t entered the alcohol space just yet but there is growing evidence the company best known for its namesake cola, Tropicana orange juice and Aquafina water wants to be a bigger player in the category. PepsiCo recently filed a trademark application indicating it could eventually decide to sell beer, alcoholic fruit cocktail drinks, alcoholic malt beverages and hard seltzer under the Rockstar brand name.

With bars, restaurants and other establishments closed or having significantly scaled back operations during the pandemic, people have shown a willingness to make and consume their own alcoholic beverages at home. It’s a big reason why car-sharing and food-delivery service Uber spent $1.1 billion to buy alcohol delivery startup Drizly in a bet that at-home alcohol consumption will continue even as places reopen.

COVID-19 has gotten people used to the fact that they can make their own drinks at home. But some beverages are complicated to put together, or people don’t want to spend the time doing so after a long day. This has promoted beverage makers like PepsiCo to attract consumers by simplifying the drink-making process through pre-mixed liquids.

PepsiCo’s first mixer offering, Neon Zebra, was made for classic cocktails such as margaritas, daiquiris, mojitos and whiskey sours. Unmuddled aims to elevate the at-home cocktail experience with more complicated offerings but without the recipes, ingredients or techniques that could be a deterrent to consumers. PepsiCo knows beverages, but its expertise is not in alcohol — whether it’s making the drinks or dealing with the 21-plus age requirements — so these brands are logical moves for the New York company.

It’s hardly a surprise to see why PepsiCo is making such a big push into cocktail mixers. U.S. consumers spent $304.6 million on cocktail mixers in the 52 weeks ending Feb. 13, 2021, an increase of 36% from the prior year, according to data provided to Food Dive by Nielsen. In the previous period — the 52 weeks ending Feb. 15, 2020  —  cocktail mixer sales edged up only 1.2%. 

PepsiCo has been moving aggressively to reach more consumers at various points throughout the day beyond the juice, soda, tea and water crowd. In just the last year, PepsiCo has launched Soulboost, an enhanced sparkling water beverage made with real juice and functional ingredients; Driftwell for relaxation and decreasing stress; and a line of juice waters called Frutly aimed at teens.

The mixers extend that push even further. It allows people who crave a mixed drink to unwind at night and may not want to open a can of Mtn Dew or pour a glass of juice to still consume a PepsiCo product.

Start ups like Q Mixers are popular with many consumers. And Drinkworks, a partnership established in 2017 between AB InBev and Keurig Dr Pepper, developed a Keurig-like machine that creates cocktails such as an Old Fashioned, White Russian, Long Island Iced Tea and a mojito. Coca-Cola introduced its own line of cocktail mixers for dark spirits in 2019, but the products were only available in England. 

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